A couple of days ago I flopped on my sofa at the end of a day of ministry (yes, I’m retired but I still care for others with joy). The needs of others pressed hard on me – my mother-in-law hospitalized with terrible pain, a friend told that hospice was his next step, another trying to work through complications that followed open heart surgery. Added to that were the ongoing concerns about the ordinary ‘stuff’ of life that goes on around me.
I have made enough trips around the sun to know that it was mostly fatigue that was making me see insurmountable mountains, that a good night’s rest and a season of reflection in God’s Presence would restore the joy. And, Thursday did dawn with new hope, with strength for the day.
My Dad liked to quote from Job – “Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7, NIV) He said it with a smile, an acknowledgment that life could be hard but his words were not born of despair, nor was he resigned to grim survival. We can, by God, face life with courage! We need it, my friend, because today, or tomorrow, or next month, or next year – troubles will come. We could be philosophical about the reasons for that but for today I will simply state the obvious: Life can difficult, fear can overwhelm us unless we have learned that there are resources on which to draw to meet it and defeat it.
Samuel wrote of a teenage shepherd boy, David, who saw fear and hopelessness and changed the atmosphere with his faith. Jesse of Bethlehem woke up his youngest son and sent him to with supplies for his three older brothers in the army. When he arrived where the battle lines with the Philistines were drawn he saw a champion of the enemy forces, Goliath coming out hurl insults at the armies of Israel. David saw men who were cowed into silence, fearful, overwhelmed. David observed the situation but with faith not fear. He looked past the huge warrior shouting his challenges and saw an insult to the Lord God of Israel.
Faith rose up in him. “Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26, NLT) His oldest brother, Eliab, told him to shut up, that he was just a know-nothing kid. David would not be quiet. He knew the Lord and entered the contest with the giant full of faith. The big man mocked the shepherd boy until he felt smooth stone from the slingshot connect with his forehead. I wonder if his last conscious was, ‘killed, by a shepherd kid, with a slingshot?’
Goliath never anticipated his demise because he could not see the true power of the kid with a slingshot. God did not see a scrawny teenager. He saw a mighty warrior of faith and gave David the victory.
So, as you look over your world this morning, what is your perspective?
Do you see only hardship, insurmountable challenges, sorrow, or chaos?
Is temptation, loss, disappointment, confusion, or fear making you cower or cry?
The Word teaches us to be courageous. “But Christ, the faithful Son, was in charge of the entire household. And we are God’s household, if we keep up our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ.” (Hebrews 3:6, NLT) “Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13, NLT) Let’s not confuse bravado with real courage. We do not shout at the storms trying to drown our own fears. Real courage comes from our faith in God, a trust that is bedrock solid, a confession that is matched by choices of faith.
Jesus and His friends has a spectacular day. They fed thousands with one small lunch, witnessing an amazing miracle. Their hearts were overflowing with joy as they got into their small boat to head across the Lake of Galilee for home. But, their experience quickly changed. “About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came to them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him, they screamed in terror, thinking he was a ghost. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “It’s all right,” he said. “I am here! Don’t be afraid.” (Matthew 14:25-27, NLT) If you are in the dark, full of fear, choose to pray and listen for the voice of the Spirit saying to you: “I am here! Don’t be afraid.”
His Presence changes our perspective! Pray often, “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.” (Psalm 119:18, NLT) Don’t strain to ‘make sense’ of your situation. Don’t settle for “Christian” cliches. Wait on the Lord, even if you cry. Confess your doubts, your fear, and invite the Spirit to renew your courage.
Fill your mind with a Psalm, a passage of promise. No matter what life ‘looks like’ at the moment, the truth is that He is there, He will never leave you, walking with us even in the ‘valley of death’s shadow!’
The hardest choice will be to wait, to grow quiet, to let the Spirit find and fill us. But, when He comes to us, and He will: we are prepared to meet the Goliath challenges with sight sharpened by faith!
Here’s a word from the Word. Read it slowly, prayerfully. Let the amazing promise soak into your soul and mind today; then take on that giant!
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill you. They can only kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to him than a whole flock of sparrows.” (Matthew 10:28-31, NLT)
Abide with me fast falls the eventide
The darkness deepens Lord with me abide
When other helpers fail and comforts flee
Help of the helpless O abide with me
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day
Earth’s joys grow dim its glories pass away
Change and decay in all around I see
O Thou who changest not abide with me
I need Thy presence ev’ry passing hour
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r
Who like Thyself my Guide and Strength can be
Through cloud and sunshine Lord abide with me
I fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight and tears no bitterness
Where is death’s sting where grave thy victory
I triumph still if Thou abide with me
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies
Heav’n’s morning breaks
And earth’s vain shadows flee
In life in death O Lord abide with me
William Henry Monk
© Words: Public Domain