Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 3, 2013

'Be strong,' Joshua says

— Hundreds of people gathered at the Howard County Courthouse Thursday in observance of the National Day of Prayer — just as they have for several years.

This year’s theme emphasized the need for individuals, corporately and personally, to place their faith in God. National organizers chose Matthew 12:21 as Scripture for the event: “In His name the nations will put their hope.”

There was a lot to pray about. Since last year’s National Day of Prayer, a man fired several automatic weapons into a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 and wounding 58; a 20-year-old shot and killed 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and two bombs were donated near the finish line of last month’s Boston Marathon.

These recent violent tragedies — all the very definition of acts of terror, designed to demoralize — reminded us of Pastor John Tice’s message at the local National Day of Prayer observance in 2009.

He said prayer is referred to in the Bible as a “shield.” Soldiers in biblical times fought with shields locked, he said, repelling the enemy, usually on one knee.

It was no coincidence the Bible used that term, he said.

“We are freed not by punching with our military might, but one might find us advancing on our knees,” Tice said. “We need not pray for easy lives; we need to pray to be stronger people.”

During the 2008 observance, Kokomo attorney Jim Butcher focused on a similar theme and read the remaining verses of the 28th Psalm.

“The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.

“Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.”

Considering the challenges in preventing such violence that face our nation and those that surely will meet us in the coming year, we thought we’d share our favorite verse: Joshua 1:9.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”