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There are moments in life when we take one look at our circumstances, and quite honestly want to run the other way. We become overwhelmed and overcome with fear and insecurity, and it can seem as if we are suffocating when our self reliance fails us.
The week before Halloween, my oldest son begged me to take him to get a costume. I knew as his mom exactly what this would mean: sheer terror at the scary masks and spooky mannequins once we arrived. We had barely stepped foot inside the store before my nearly 9-year-old glued himself to my side, whimpering in tears, his eyes tightly closed as he pleaded for me to guide him to the less scary options. I’m so glad that he took comfort in me as his protector, but I also realized the disconnect as to who and what are rightly to be feared. Can’t we all find ourselves in this same place–fearing things that appear scary, only to find out that they hold no control over us? We so often forget the promises of a sovereign God and the privileges of belonging to Him when we are staring fear in the face.
Just as my son was fearful and unsure about facing the scary monsters and evil villains, we see many of God’s people in scripture running in fear when facing obstacles, scary situations and giants. We see a people who, just like us, while knowing the promises God had given them, turn and hide because of unbelief and doubt. When I think about the men Moses sent to spy and survey the land of Canaan, who upon their return gave a testimony of giants occupying the land, I see how the people grumbled against Moses and were fearful and unwilling to go and take the land that God had clearly promised His people.
We so often forget the promises of a sovereign God and the privileges of belonging to Him when we are staring fear in the face.
However, Caleb and Joshua–who were among the men that went to survey the land–confidently stood their ground, full of conviction and belief of the Lord that He would give them the victory. They tore their clothes in grief over the people’s unbelief, saying, “If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them and the Lord is with us; do not fear them” (Numbers 14:8, 9).
These two men, Caleb and Joshua, held a firm grasp on God’s truth. They were tethered and anchored to His promises so tightly that nothing, not even people who devoured their inhabitants or oversized giants, could keep them away. We can learn a lot from their confidence, which was not rooted in self-reliance, pride, or human strength; it was solely rooted in believing in God. They knew HE was capable and had said so.
Similarly, we see a young David–probably only eight or nine years old–faithfully shepherding his sheep as his brothers went with the Israelites into battle against the Philistines. The Israelite soldiers, and even King Saul himself, daily retreated in fear as the Philistines brought out their biggest, strongest soldier Goliath. As David was bringing food to his brothers in battle one day, he hears for himself the threats made by Goliath. I imagine David turning to the men around him and saying, “Did he just say what I think he said!?” before he asks, “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26).
Despite the disapproval of his brothers and nearly all the soldiers watching with little faith, David confidently reassured King Saul that just as he had struck down lions and bears, he would also defeat this giant Philistine. David did not bother with fancy armor or superior weapons, and even as Goliath flashed his sword and spear, David’s conviction rested in coming “in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45). He steadfastly believed that the Lord would deliver Goliath so that “all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear” (1 Samuel 17:47). Not once do we see questioning, fear or insecurity in David. Maybe he felt it, but his belief in an almighty God trumped and cast all fear aside. David did not doubt God’s limitless capability to save the army of Israel from the Philistines. David manifested faith when not even the strongest men in the nation had any gumption.
David did not doubt God’s limitless capability to save the army of Israel from the Philistines. David manifested faith when not even the strongest men in the nation had any gumption.
Joshua, Caleb and David each stood with stark conviction on the promises of God, despite being surrounded by unbelieving people. In both circumstances, the people of Israel were so focused on their fear and self preservation, that they could not even recognize God. We desperately need people in our lives that remind us of God’s character and promises, instead of perpetuating doubt.
“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them?’” (Numbers 14:11).
When we become more focused on the giants in our lives than the promises God has already given us, we are paralyzed. I wholly resonate with the doubt, fear and insecurity that God’s people experienced; these are the giants that I fight daily. I doubt God’s love for me (How could anyone love me?), I fear unknowns and facing situations that are not in my control (What if ____?), and I wrestle with insecurity (I’m not good enough…I’m a “hard” friend…If only I was a mom like so-and-so). Without the truth of God’s Word, defeating these giants is merely an exhausting and unproductive battle. As much as I will myself to be secure with my identity in Christ alone, if I am not girded up in His truth, my heart and mind wander to and fro.
Spending daily time in the Scriptures has become imperative for me, and it allows God’s living Word to flow through my heart like a river, washing out lies and self-reliance. Overcoming doubt and unbelief, along with all the other giants we face, solely rests in believing God rather than our own perceptions about our circumstances. Either we trust and believe God or we don’t.
Until we are overcome by who God is, we will be overcome by who we are not.
I pray that we may be a generation marked by faith; a courageous people who spur one another on, reflecting and remembering God’s faithfulness to His people. May we be a people like Abraham, who “no unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:20-21). Until we are overcome by who God is, we will be overcome by who we are not. God often uses impossible situations and unlikely people to show himself: the sovereign Creator of the universe and Overcomer of giants, darkness and even death.
What giants are you facing today? Are they insecurity, fear, failure, inadequacy, pride? Maybe you are sitting in a circumstance in which you have no idea where to go. Can I just tell you that our God is capable to take your hand and walk with you through whatever dire situation you are facing? As you look toward this new year, what is keeping you from taking hold of the promises God has given you in Him? Who are your people that speak truth to you when you are inclined to believe lies or live in fear? In Romans 8:37, Paul says that we are more than conquerers through him who loved us and that nothing is able to separate us from the love of God. In Christ, we have the victory and there is nothing to fear when we are in Him. “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5).
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Image Credit: Mark Leeson, Creative Commons
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