If you’ve worked for any length of time on Capitol Hill, odds are you’ve run up against something or somebody that makes you feel uncomfortable, inferior, “dumber,” insecure, or maybe even fearful.
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there and you are not even remotely alone in having such feelings, whether you are a disciple of Jesus Christ or not. Believers are just as susceptible as anybody else, but they have two unique resources for dealing with such challenges.
The first is the Bible, which Christians hold to be the inspired Word of God. It also happens to have a treasure chest of history that the Lord uses to teach important lessons for those willing to receive them.
There are multiple examples in the Bible of individuals or groups encountering kings, armies, giants or other nations or tribes that inspired their fear and insecurity.
You may have heard, for example, about David’s encounter as a very young shepherd with a humongous Philistine Army bully named Goliath (See the 17th chapter of I Samuel in the Old Testament).
But let’s go back even before that illustrious encounter. The 13th and 14th chapters of the Old Testament book of Numbers recounts what happened when Moses sent 12 men into Canaan, the land God had promised to the Hebrews.
Ten of the men came back and confirmed that Canaan was just as God described it, a “land of milk of honey.” But it was also filled with giants, beside whom the Israelites felt “like grasshoppers.” The 10 men told Moses to turn around and take the Israelites back to slavery in Egypt because there was no way they could conquer Canaan.
“The Israelites gave in to their fear and ended up wandering around the Sinai desert for 40 more years.”
Caleb and Joshua, the other two spies, agreed that the land was incredibly bountiful and that it was indeed filled with giants, but their recommendation to Moses was the exact opposite:
“The Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”
But the two were ignored, the Israelites gave in to their fear and ended up wandering around the Sinai desert for 40 more years. Only a handful of that generation ever made it to the Promised Land. The rest died in the desert.
What’s the lesson there for us today? Tom Thomas, writing in Moral Apologetics, puts it like this:
“The children of Israel came to the right conclusion but made the wrong response. They said ‘we are not able’ and responded with fear. They weighed the strength of the towns. They noted the size of the inhabitants.
“They feared. Fear supplants God with the threat. It deifies the threat. The threat carries more gravitas than God. The Israelites responded with fear to Canaan saying, ‘We are not able to go up against this people, for they are stronger than we … Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword’? Let us choose a captain and return to Egypt.”
“They did not cave in to their fears because they believed “the Lord is with us.” They had faith and they were willing to act on that faith, they believed God.”
And what of Caleb and Joshua? They had the second unique resource. Thomas explains:
“Both Caleb and Joshua saw the same threat as the other Israelite spies. They responded to the Canaan giants with faith. They believed God was able.
“Caleb said, ‘Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.’ Joshua joined in with Caleb and said, ‘If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us.’ Faith puts a threat in God’s perspective. Yes, we are not able…but God is.”
They did not cave in to their fears because they believed “the Lord is with us.” They had faith and they were willing to act on that faith, they believed God.
Joshua ultimately succeeded Moses and led the next generation of Israelites into the Promised Land. Caleb was with him and was one of the heroes of the conquest.
But there’s more to this than simply saying you aren’t going to be fearful anymore. Faith is a lot like courage, it’s chosen and acted upon no matter how circumstances appear. It can’t just be talked about, around or over.
Something else faith isn’t — often it’s not easy. I’ve been there and done that when having faith was really tough and when it, blessedly, wasn’t so hard to have. And there were more times than I care to recall when I failed the test. Like the man said, politics ain’t bean bag.
If you’d like to know more, let’s talk.