Bangladesh, an Islamic nation, has a population of 160 million people crammed into a land area half the size of Victoria and is one of the world's most densely populated countries.
This, along with political instability and widespread poverty, made it an interesting destination choice for a young Aussie student to complete her degree. I was feeling afraid. That is a fact, I cannot deny. I can tangibly recall the thoughts and emotions going through my mind, as I sat on the floor in the hotel room.
The only thing I could do was open my Bible and pray. God had opened every door possible for me to travel to Bangladesh for four months (the university even paid for my flight), and I knew this was His plan without a doubt.
This was one of the first times as an adult that I can recall being truly afraid. And one of the first times in my life that God's presence flooded me and gave me a kind of peace that has no words. I had complete confidence in Him and took this with me throughout my trip. Each day I was there required regular guidance and input from my Lord, right down to which road I should take. My life was truly placed in His hands.
Have no fear, for I am with you; do not be looking about in trouble, for I am your God; I will give you strength, yes, I will be your helper; yes, my true right hand will be your support (Isaiah 41 verse 10).
Being in a country like Bangladesh, or in the depth of sickness or other such situations I have found myself in, I am left with no choice but to rely on God. It is in these times it seems so much easier to grasp the fullness and power of such a verse. His true and righteous right hand seems so near and I more often acknowledge and welcome His nearness.
But in my normal day to day life with all my creature comforts, my daily routines and my reliance on my own abilities, I forget such verses, I depend less on the Word of God and can fail to recall its relevance and power in my life. And that is when the fears and anxiety subtly creep in.
A similar command is given in the book of Joshua. Joshua 1 verses 7-9 says, "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go…do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
As a family we have been wrestling with these verses on the floor of our boy's bedroom each evening for the past week. We have been delving into the life of Joshua and just what does God's instruction to him mean for our young boys and for us in this day and age. And as a family God has shown us that the very words He said to Joshua as he took over leadership from Moses are so relevant for our family this very week, and every week to come.
As our little boy faced school for the first time, we prayed through and shared this verse with him for the 3 nights prior to school starting. He may not have been leading a nation across the Jordan River, but he was taking a big step into the big wide world of education, and was clearly quite anxious about the whole concept. He is only 6 years old but found comfort in these powerful words. One week in, he is now thanking God that he can learn at school!
And as my husband and I embark on a new season of leading the youth in our church, this same verse has been pivotal. Fears and discouragement creep in. But the Word of God is powerful and speaks truth and life. The road of leadership that Joshua stepped into was no walk in the park. If he had known all the details maybe he would have run the other way!! As my day to day life brings challenges, no matter how small, I cling to the Word of God for everything I need.
Laura Veloso is wife to John and the mother of 3 young boys. She is trained in child welfare and primary school teaching. John is a youth worker in local council. Together they serve as Youth Pastors and home group leaders in their local church. Laura also has interests in settling refugees, missions and rehabilitating battery chickens.
Laura Veloso's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/laura-veloso.html