In Deuteronomy 20, Moses gave the Israelites a reminder that is good for us too. In verse 1 he said, “When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you!” (NLT) He knew that there would be battles they would face where they were outnumbered, outgunned, and outresourced. He knew that as people we would look at those things and be afraid.
When I was a kid, my brothers and I would always want to take things to a vote because we knew we had more votes than our parents. My dad would say, “Ok, but our vote counts as one more than yours.” Without knowing it, he was demonstrating what it’s like to have God on your side. It doesn’t matter how many problems you’re up against, you have one more solution than problems because God is on your side.
God wants to remind you today that with Him on your side, you are never outnumbered, outgunned, or outresourced. You don’t have to be afraid of what you’re up against no matter what the physical odds are. The spiritual odds are in your favor. In Joshua 1:9, God again reminds us of this promise. He said, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” So be strong and courageous today. God is with you. There is no need to be afraid. Walk in victory.
Exodus 14 gives the account of the Israelites leaving Egypt and getting to the Red Sea. In verse 8, it says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he chased after “the people of Israel, who left with fists raised in defiance” (NLT). As they walked out of town, they had their fists up in celebration and in victory. For 430 years they had been there. God had finally heard their cries and came to their rescue.
That victory stance suddenly changed when they saw Pharaoh and his army bearing down on them. They went from a victory mindset to a victim mindset in an instant. They quit celebrating and started bellyaching. They complained to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness?” They are like so many of us who forget what God has already done for us. We lose sight of the past in light of the present. We are all guilty of doing this at times.
Moses spoke to them words that we need to hear when our faith turns into fear. Verses 13 and 14 say, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Great words spoken by God to us in whatever we are facing. Don’t be afraid. Watch the Lord rescue you. The Lord will fight for you. Just stay calm. I believe God is trying to tell us the same thing.
I don’t know what you’re up against today, but it’s no match for what God can do. I don’t know how trapped you feel, or how much your back is up against a wall, but if God can part the Red Sea, He can make a way where there seems to be no way. Your situation only seems big because it’s out of perspective. Yes, it’s huge compared to you, but next to God, it’s pretty small and not that complex. Don’t be afraid. Just stay calm. God is already working on your behalf. Trust Him to do what only He can do.
Fear is a funny thing. It can make a grown man scream like a child. It can make the strongest one among us look weak. It has the ability to paralyze the most able bodied person. When we see someone who is afraid of something we’re not afraid of, we tend to laugh and make fun. When we see someone stuck in a situation because of fear, we are rarely empathetic because we don’t take the time to put ourselves in their shoes.
I have a coworker who tells the story that he was riding in the car with someone going down the freeway. They were talking and having a good time until the driver freezes up and gets serious. He asked what was wrong and the driver motions with his head to look left. Confused, he asked, “What?!?” The driver whispered, “There’s a spider on the window.” He laughed and said, “Are you serious?” He then reached across the driver to swat it, but realized if he knocked it down, they’d have a wreck. He pinched it and threw it out the window. Immediately the driver went back to normal.
He laughs and so do others when he tells the story and does all the animation that goes with it. Then he tells how he asked the driver why he’s afraid of spiders. The driver said that when he was young, he was swimming in a pool and there was a spider on the water. As it came near to him, he tried to use waves to push it away. It kept coming though. He ended up taking his hand and slapped down on the water to kill it. When he hit it, immediately hundreds of baby spiders went everywhere. He was covered in them and couldn’t get away. Since then he’s been afraid.
It’s easy to make fun of someone’s fear until we understand it. Each one of us are afraid of something ourselves, so why don’t we encourage others who are afraid? There are people around us who are starting over in life and they’re afraid. There are people who have to move for work and are afraid they won’t find friendships like those they’re leaving behind. Some are having to go where God is calling them, but it’s taking more faith than they think they have. Each one of these needs empathy and encouragement.
When Jesus was walking on the water towards the boat full of disciples, they were terrified. Twelve grown men were screaming like little children. Then, one voice pierced through the storm and their screams. It said, “Take courage! I AM! Stop being afraid!” Jesus’ call to them goes out to us today. Whatever we’re facing, we can take courage through Him. He reminded them and us that He is God. And finally, he commands us to stop being afraid. We can have courage and know He is God and still be paralyzed by being afraid. Don’t let that happen. Stop being afraid and follow where God leads.
Whenever I get overwhelmed by my circumstances, I search the Bible for God’s promises. I try to find people who were overwhelmed too. Some of the greatest leaders of the Bible needed encouragement as much as I do. They looked at their circumstances as well as what God called them to do and I can imagine their panic. We don’t always read that they were panicked, but we see what God said to them and can tell that they were. Joshua is a great example of this.
He had been to the Promised Land, seen the giants and declared that they could defeat them. In Deuteronomy 31 when Moses passes the torch to Joshua, the reality of that prediction fell on his shoulders. He said they could be victorious so God said, “Ok, then you get to lead the charge.” As Moses was passing the torch of leadership to him, he said, “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated… He (God) is right there with you. He won’t let you down; He won’t leave you…Don’t worry.”
Those words weren’t recorded just for Joshua’s sake. They were written to remind you and me that whatever we face in this life, God is with us. We can be strong and courageous. We can be assured that God won’t let us down so we don’t have to worry. There may be an impassible river in front of us today, but God will part it. There may be giants in the land ahead of us, but God will give us the victory. We may see all the impossibilities that stand in our way, but we don’t have to be intimidated.
You and I aren’t the first ones to be lead into the unknown. We aren’t the first ones to have to face giants. What God has done for others in the past, He will do for us. The Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change. We can fully trust that He will part the waters, knock down the walls, defeat the giants in our life and give us victory. What He requires of us is to have the courage to walk to the waters edge, circle the walls in our lives and face the giants that stand in our path.
When we do our part, He will do His. Our step of faith preceded His provision. He encourages us to be strong and courageous because we need that in order to step out in faith. Don’t let fear hold you back. Don’t be intimidated by what you see in the physical realm. Our God makes things happen in the spiritual realm that affect the physical realm. We have to trust Him completely and act in accordance with His Word and He will give the victory today. God won’t let you down or leave you, so don’t worry just believe.