"I will never leave you nor forsake you". Fewer words in the English language have the power to evoke such comfort and hope in the Christian heart as these.
We live in a world where people leave. Sometimes they leave us when they die and sometimes they choose to go. In most cases we're not ready for them to leave... So we feel abandoned and neglected and dejected when they do.
And that's why this promise is so meaningful...
Be strong and courageous.
God knew that to survive in the world after the fall people would require a great deal of strength. We would experience great trouble and suffering and so we need the ability to bear it.
I find it necessary to define the words strong and courage for us to get the true meaning of the verse.
Strong, according to the online dictionary, means "being able to withstand great force or pressure."
Brave, from the same source, is defined as "the ability to do something that frightens one or strength in the face of pain or grief."
God tells us to be strong. Have courage. Life on earth requires it. We have an enemy who lives to make our lives miserable but God made us resilient and He made us strong.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them...
In the context of the verse, Moses was encouraging the people not to be afraid of the nations in Canaan.
Today God is telling us that we will face many difficulties, there will be people set in our path by the enemy to distract and dismay. A lot of time these people will more powerful or physically stronger than we are.
But God encourages us not to be afraid of them. Fear did not originate with God. Fear is a consequence of sin.
... for the Lord your God goes with you
Here's the best part: God goes with us. Have you ever had those moments when you feel like you're all alone? You feel as though nobody could possibly understand how you're feeling.
And then God shows up.
He reminds you that He's always there with you - He opens your eyes to the beauty of a flower, a sunset. he tunes your ear to appreciate the beauty of a child's laugh. We are reminded that there is no place we can go that is outside the presence of God.
... He will never leave you nor forsake you.
The God that we serve is all-mighty and ever-present. I don't know how He does it. I don't understand how He can be with me and with you and with everyone else all at the same time. But.
I know it to be true. I have felt His presence even while I see Him working in someone else's life. And the fact that He can do that - Completely. Blows. My. Mind.
That's why I believe Him. It doesn't matter what we're doing or what we've done, He offers grace. Grace enough to cover our sins.
He offers love. Love enough to forgive us when we've done the 'unforgivable' - that thing that makes us feel dirty and ashamed.
Personal Bible Study
Read Deuteronomy 31.
What were the conditions that had to be met to claim the promise?
How are those conditions still valid today?
Ask God to help you fulfill the conditions that you fall short on so that you can claim His promise.
Re-write the verse with your name in it. Keep it somewhere that you can refer to it whenever you're feeling alone.