Be valiant and strong, do not fear nor be afraid of them, nor be terrified before them; for the Lord your God, He is the One Who goes before you and with you and among you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. - Deuteronomy 31:6
Preparing to enter the Land of Canaan, the Israelites were gathered near the Jordan River when Moses gave his final speech and told them Joshua would lead them into the Promised Land. It should have been a momentous occasion – the end of the forty-year journey out of Egypt to the land God had promised their forefathers. But on the other side of the Jordan, prepared, armed, and trained military forces awaited them, reinforced by giants descended from Anak. Ten of the twelve spies sent by Moses to explore the land reported that victory over such enemies was not possible. The odds were against them. Here, at the culmination of their journey to freedom, they were facing the near-certain reality of utter defeat. They were under-armed, untrained, without resources or might or power, and they were to claim the hostile territory as their own. Even as Moses tried to encourage them and strengthen their resolve, no doubt many were disheartened and discouraged. The enemy was too great, and they were too small.
I think a great many of us feel that way – disheartened and discouraged. Just watching or reading the news can be overwhelming. The warnings of spread and death are dire. Predictions of economic disaster, critical supply shortages, and long-term closures are rampant. Unemployment will be higher than during the Depression. Terrorists are going to take advantage of our weakened state. Whole industries will be set back and possibly never recover. Every day, another warning of disaster pops up, and like an insidious virus of the mind, the challenges and obstacles of the future infect us with anxiety and fear. It’s exhausting, really, to invest too much time speculating on things we cannot possibly control. Moreover, infecting today with fear and worry about tomorrow doesn’t change tomorrow. It just steals today.
Throughout the Bible, God reassures His people – reassures us – that He is with us and will never leave us or forsake us. His promises are unqualified and extravagant. All He asks of us is to trust Him to be Who He says He is and to do what He says He will do. While almost all of us truly believe in Him, not that many of us truly trust Him. That is a huge gap in Christian faith. Faith requires trust, and belief does not. Jesus’ words jump to mind, “Even the demons believe…” But they do not trust.
Only Joshua and Caleb returned to the Israelites after spying with confidence that they would indeed possess the land. Their reasoning was not dependent upon Israelite strategies and might. Rather, the reason the Israelites would conquer the Land of Canaan was because the Lord would help them and win the land for them. That is so important for us to recognize. For every voice saying, you are going to be okay, there are ten more (maybe a hundred more) telling you that you are not. The future is awful and dark and terrible, and nothing good can come of this. That is simply not true. We are looking at giants and thinking we cannot possibly survive. We must remember that our God is the One Who goes before us and is with us and among us. Ultimately, we are a people of faith – faith not in human government, human science, or human medicine, but faith in the God Who made the heavens and the earths and all that is within them. He is trustworthy in ways human beings cannot even aspire to be.
When I started in ministry some years ago, new appointments were a bit like being in the military. The phone rang, and the District Superintendent said, “Get a pen and paper. I’m calling to tell you where you’re moving.” In not a single appointment had I even heard of the places I was being sent. But, you know what? Every place I ever moved God was there waiting for me when I arrived.
The same is true for you. God is waiting for you in the future. He goes before you, and you do not need to be afraid. He has numbered the hairs on your head and assured you He knows what you need. Second only to the Resurrection is God’s the promise that He causes all things – not just good things but all things – to work for good, if you love Him and live according to His purpose.
We need to be wise, careful, and prudent, but not afraid. Worry and anxiety about tomorrow help not at all today. The future is going to be different, but then, the future is always different. The one constant of human life is change. The other and greater constant in human life is our God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He never breaks a promise, never fails in His purposes, never abandons His children, and never ceases to bestow unlimited forgiveness, mercy, and love. Among all the authorities being quoted, the most important Authority is not human, but Divine. He has said He will go before us, be with us, and be among us, and so He will.
Do not be afraid. When tomorrow comes, God will be there waiting for you.
In Christ –
Rev. Elizabeth Moreau – © 2020