#FEARLESS365 is a yearlong study of God’s commandment to us to live without fear. For 365 days, we will focus on one scripture and volunteers from all over the world will share their personal thoughts and what God has shared with them on the specific verse. For more info… go here.
Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the LORD is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
Years ago when I first encountered this passage, I felt a strong sense of admiration for the faith of Joshua and Caleb. They saw the same giants that their fellow Israelites did, yet they expressed confidence that they needed only to obey God and victory was certain. They knew that with the Lord on their side, no enemy would be beyond their ability to defeat, so there was no reason to be fearful. As for the rest of the congregation who were panic-stricken and who felt it would be better to go back to slavery in Egypt than to face the fearsome, I felt disappointment, frustration, even. God had shown them so many wonders, and yet they rebelled and were extremely ungrateful.
Soon enough, however, I came to understand that the congregation’s seeming forgetfulness. It had been so easy for me to judge them, yet how many times had I been similarly guilty of their sins? How often had I spent sleepless, anxiety-filled nights thinking of ways to get myself out of a challenging situation, forgetting the innumerable times that God had lifted me out of my life’s miry pits?
Fear, anxiety and a questioning, rebellious heart (“why me, Lord?”) really are the norm, the natural worldly response to any threat of trouble. In my own life, I have come to see that it is by God’s grace alone that a heart becomes truly confident in His sovereignty, power, faithfulness and love amidst any circumstance, as Joshua’s and Caleb’s hearts had been.
My heart’s transformation took place eight years ago, in the middle of a tumultuous time in my marriage. My husband and I were living under the same roof but our life had become a silent movie riddled with resentment, infidelity and bitterness. One particularly tormented day, I had just spent hours plotting a confrontation when my discipler (yes, discipler, as my husband and I were professing Christians, but had been leading un-surrendered, self-centered, rebellious lives) suggested that I attend an evening service at church. I did, and the first thing that welcomed me upon entering the worship hall was the congregation singing the words, “The battles is the Lord’s….”
It felt as though somebody opened the floodgates of my heart, and I sobbed uncontrollably — not out of grief or desperation or loneliness, but out of an indescribable sense of relief: My life’s battle was really the Lord’s battle, not mine! I had no need for plots, my human wisdom and emotions would not get me anywhere, but I could claim victory in God alone! An overwhelming sense of peace filled me then, and from that supernatural point onward I had grown to be fully dependent on the grace of God and to trust Him in all areas of my life.
True enough, in God’s perfect way and time both my husband and myself began to walk faithfully with Him, our marriage was restored, and our relationship with God and with each other became sweeter than ever before. By the time my husband was diagnosed with kidney failure and began undergoing regular dialysis, four years ago, by God’s grace and mercy we responded like Joshua and Caleb: recognizing that this was a giant we were facing, yet with eyes fixed on Him, keen on glorifying Him, asking Him for protection against the lies and the attacks of the enemy, and confident that He would strengthen us and cause us to live victoriously.
Still, I believe that for any follower of Jesus to finish well, constant reminding from His word is so important. Reading this passage again refreshed me and brought back to mind my memories of God’s faithfulness in my life, throughout all the times that He gave me courage, protected me from the enemy’s attacks and showed me the rewards of trust and obedience.
Pia Jingco lives in Manila, Philippines. She works for Compassion International, promoting holistic child development. She blogs here.