“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
In Numbers 13, the nation of Israel was standing just beyond the promised land. After years of seeing God move in miraculous ways, they were finally right there – so close, they could literally see it! But they had a choice to make: trust God to fulfill His promise and give them the land or cower to fear and remain in the wilderness. Now, the Israelites were no stranger to God-sized miracles, provision, and victory in the face of overwhelming odds. They had been rescued by God from slavery in Egypt, crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, and experienced God’s manna as they wandered through the wilderness. Yet, as they stood outside the land promised to them by God, they hesitated. What stopped them from entering? Fear.
Instead of remembering how God had repeatedly rescued them from Pharaoh’s powerful army, they focused on the size and strength of the “giants” inhabiting the land. Rather than recalling God’s daily presence leading them through the wilderness (Exodus 13:21 ) and providing enough manna each day for every individual to have their fill, they focused on the fortified walls surrounding the land.
So what happened? Moses sent 12 spies to investigate the land, and all but two came back certain that possession of the land was impossible (even though it had already been promised to them by God). The people gave in to their fear. Israel suffered 40 more years in the wilderness as a result of their choice.
Similar to the Israelites standing on the brink of the promised land, followers of Jesus today will face circumstances that require us to choose between moving forward in faith or remaining stuck in fear. It doesn’t take long to begin to feel overwhelmed by national and international challenges and obstacles. COVID-19 is a global pandemic. Racial tensions are elevated. It is an election year in the US. Poverty, war, nations in unrest, the list goes on and on. Fear abounds, but as Jesus followers, we are called to a different way.
So, how can we choose to walk in faith, while surrounded by so much to fear?
- Remember that we can know God, who is with us through Jesus. Israel never walked alone in the wilderness. Whether by fire, cloud, or the Ark of the Covenant, God is always with His people.
- Remember God’s faithfulness. In Deuteronomy chapters 1 through 4, Moses recounted all that God had done for Israel on their journey as a means to encourage them in their future. Take time to remember God’s faithfulness in your past. How has God shown up for you? Provided for you? Protected you? Trust that He will do the same in your future.
No matter how big your problem, how big your challenge, how big your difficulty, or how big your enemy, God is bigger. God is stronger. God is more powerful, and God is with you.