Do you have a fear of bugs?
Many of us do, and I don’t mind admitting that I’m one of them.
Finding a bug in the house instills terror in me. I’m convinced the bug is out to get me, lying in wait to murder me.
I’m tempted to have armed police arrive at my door to deal with the “intruder.” It takes all the self-control I can muster to refrain from dialling 911.
People tell me I’m being irrational. After all, humans are thousands of times bigger than bugs. Insects are probably more afraid of us than we are of them, right?
But I don’t see it that way, so I’m afraid to confront them.
I’ve fallen into the trap of letting my fear get out of proportion to the problem.
Many of us make this mistake. We let fear get the better of us, and it hobbles our responses to life’s challenges.
In ancient times, the children of Israel were no exception.
When they were on the brink of entering the Promised Land, they sent in twelve scouts to spy out the land before crossing over. Two of them came back with an enthusiastic report and essentially said, “We can do this!” The other ten, however, came back discouraged and afraid. They’d caught sight of the people of the land, who looked like giants to them.
“We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:33)
Despite God’s earlier promises that they would be given the land, the people balked and refused to advance. So they spent the next forty years wandering the desert, being chastised by God for disobedience and lack of faith in His promises and power.
They’d let fear get the better of them, to their eternal regret.
Later, we hear the other side of the story. And it’s a stunner.
Fast forward forty years. The children of Israel are again poised to enter the Promised Land. Joshua sends over two spies who hide out in the house of Rahab, a prostitute. She tells them the flip side of the earlier story.
The people of Jericho, and no doubt the rest of Canaan, had been quaking in their boots at the prospect of the Israelites invading. They’d heard of the mighty wonders God had done on behalf of His people: vanquishing Pharaoh and his army, liberating them from bondage in Egypt and parting the Red Sea. Decades before, they’d been terrified of the Israelites.
Astoundingly, they were still terrified, forty years later.
Rahab said as much to the two spies:
“‘I know the LORD has given you this land,’ she told them. ‘We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the LORD made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the LORD your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.’” (Joshua 2:9-11)
Did you catch the verb tenses Rahab used? “We are afraid…everyone is living in terror…our hearts have melted in fear.” She’s talking about their current attitude toward the Israelites, despite the fact that forty years had passed since the original exodus.
With God on their side, the Israelites were thousands of times more powerful than the Canaanites, but the first time around they couldn’t see it that way.
All this time the Canaanites had been more afraid of the Israelites than the Israelites were of them. How sad that they didn’t take ahold of God’s promises the first time: they wasted so many years.
They let their fear get out of proportion to the problem.
Let’s not make the same mistake. Trust in God’s promises and let your faith displace your fear.
With God on your side, foes many times larger are no match for you. Put your faith in Him and watch your Goliaths fall!
© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.