Strategy, organization, and training are essential when a soldier is called to fight in a war. But by far the hardest thing to do is actually quiet the fear and do the hard work of fighting.
During the American Civil War, Union major generals George McClellan and Ulysses S. Grant are studies in contrast.
McClellan was the first General-in-Chief, appointed to oversee all military operations. He was young, handsome, and carried himself with a commanding bearing. His countenance was fierce and confident. He was credentialed, having finishing second in his class at West Point. He was popular with his soldiers and with the masses. As a general, he could out-prepare, out-organize, out-train, and out-strategize every other Union commander.
But after one year, Abraham Lincoln removed McClellan from command. Why? Because on the field, McClellan was very slow to actually fight battles.
Ulysses S. Grant was nearly McClellan’s opposite. He was scruffy and a bit disheveled, soft-spoken, constantly smoked, or chewed a cigar, and his demeanor was unassuming. He was undistinguished at West Point, finishing in the lower half of his class. Early in his career, he had been forced to resign from the army due to alcohol use. As a general, he was intuitive, could be impulsive, and even reckless.
But after one year in command, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox. Why? It wasn’t because Grant was more capable than McClellan. It was because Grant was willing to fight. In saying this, I do not condone unethical tactics that he sometimes employed or allowed. My point is merely this: Grant knew that at the end of the day, battles and wars are won by doing the hard work of actually fighting.
When God appointed Joshua to succeed Moses as leader of Israel, Joshua’s task was a daunting one. It was his job to march Israel into Canaan and take over the Promised Land. God had “given” this land to Israel, but powerful peoples still lived there. This time God wasn’t going to send plagues to drive them out. He was going to send Israel to drive them out. That meant fighting. And fighting is a fearful thing.
That’s why seven times between Deuteronomy chapter 31 and Joshua chapter one, either God or Moses commanded Joshua to be “strong and courageous.” Joshua felt fear and was tempted to doubt his ability to accomplish this task. So God said, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lᴏʀᴅ your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
Written by Jon Bloom
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