In my exhaustion and frustration, the Lord began to reveal a larger spiritual truth about my own heart. How often has God proven His care and providence in my life? Has He ever failed to deliver on the promises He has made? Is there any power greater than Him and can His purposes ever be overruled?
I know the answers to these questions and many others, but just like my daughter, I fail to trust and act faithfully in the truth that I know. I focus on my circumstances rather than the God who has called me to them. If I’m honest, I want God to hold my hand, as it were. I want the difficulty, the striving, the fear to be erased with little to no effort from me. This is not faith.
We see a perfect example of this in the book of Joshua. Beginning in chapter 14, Joshua is telling the people which lands in Canaan God has chosen for each tribe. In chapters 16-17, we find the descendants of Joseph (the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh) receiving their portions. While their combined portions were second in size only to the tribe of Judah, the tribal leaders of Ephraim and Manasseh complained to Joshua that it was not enough.
“Then the people of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, ‘Why have you given me but one lot and one portion as an inheritance, although I am a numerous people since all along the Lord has blessed me?’” Joshua 17:14
Joshua’s response to this complaint allows us a glimpse into what the real problem is for these two tribes. He suggests that since they are so large, they can use their strength in numbers to clear the forested land. But the people complain further because this land is already occupied by the Perizzites and the Rephaim, an ancient race of giants. Additionally, we discover that within the territory given to Ephraim and Manasseh are other Canaanite people who “have chariots of iron” (17:16), which made them formidable opponents.
It seems that their real grievance with the land they were given was that they planned to live only in the unoccupied land. They had no desire to go up against and drive out the Canaanite inhabitants. By this logic, the land was indeed too small for them.
But God had told them differently. Way back in Deuteronomy 20, God had told His people not only that He would give them the promised land but also specific instructions on how they would subdue and claim it.
“When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt…When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. And if it responds to you peaceably and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you. But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. And when the Lord your God gives it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword.” Deuteronomy 20:1, 10-13
God continued to make these promises and instructions clear to His people. The tribes should have had no other expectation than that they would conquer the land and God would be with them as they did it.
So why the forgetfulness of God’s promises? Why the grumbling and complaining about what they had been allotted? I think the answer comes down to one simple word — fear. While the people knew the truth about God’s promises and power, they only saw the enemies before them. They were focused on their circumstances and not on the God who had called them to them.
I find it interesting that Joshua doesn’t scold the people. He doesn’t berate them for a lack of faith or chide them for forgetting what God had sworn to their fathers. He patiently reminds them of God’s power and promises and encourages them to claim them instead.
“Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, ‘You are a numerous people and have great power. You shall not have one allotment only, but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders. For you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.’” Joshua 17:17-18
God had not failed His people before, and He would not do so now. This land was theirs by promise and would fully be theirs as they trusted His power to settle and occupy it. Yes, the circumstances before them were intimidating and formidable, but only when viewed without eyes of faith — faith in God, His promises, and His power.
Are you facing difficult circumstances? Are you looking at them with eyes of faith or rather those of fear? Scripture makes it clear that there has never been a time (nor will there ever be) when God has failed to keep His promises to us. He has instructed us how to live and how to face pain, grief, trials, sufferings, and more all the while promising us His grace, strength, and peace as we trust Him.
Our difficulties are not arbitrary but tailor-made for us in the perfect wisdom of God. God not only chose the land He gave to Ephraim and Manasseh, but He equipped them to subdue it. He planned to strengthen them through their obedience and also give them great blessings. But it required them to trust Him and step out in faith instead of living in fear.
Recently, my daughter awoke in the night again after having another bad dream. She called for me and when I got to her room, I comforted her and reminded her of all the truths we had been rehearsing for months. I told her she could trust that her dad and I were always near and that she was safe to go back to sleep on her own. Then I left and went back to my bed, and my daughter fell back asleep by herself. The next morning, I made sure to offer encouragement and praise to her for sleeping on her own after her nightmare. I asked her what helped her to not be afraid and she said, “I just believed you.” Those four words hit me like a ton of bricks. She believed the truth and acted on it. How simple is that?
Whether we are facing want or plenty, joy or pain, tranquility or fear, God has given us all that we need. We just need to believe Him. Since God is powerful enough to save us, we can trust that He is powerful enough to preserve us, no matter the circumstances.
The apostle Paul said it best in Romans 8:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect?… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-32, 35, 37-39
Whatever you are facing, God has you right where He wants you, and He is with you there. Trust Him. Believe in His love and power and cling to His promises.
As the words of one of my favoritesongs say,
"The Lord is a faithful King: He never will leave us;
How do these passages of Scripture help you to have faith over fear?
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