Ever feel like you’re walking around with boulders on your shoulders? Sometimes when you look at what’s facing you on the horizon, do you see problems too big to tackle and no way around them?
When we see giants in our path, it’s hard to see anything else. That’s the problem most of the Israelite scouts had when they checked out the land God had promised to give them. You can read all about it in Numbers ch. 13.
The headline on the majority report about Canaan was: “Promised Land Full of Giants!” Nephilim, Anakites, Rephaites – all these and other names were applied to people groups who were extraordinarily tall and strong, size EXTRA-to-the-tenth-power large. (One of these the Israelites would come across later, Og King of Bashan, slept in a bed 14 feet long and six feet wide. Now, that’s a big lad!)
The trouble with giants is that they tend to fill the picture all by themselves. They did for the Israelites. Caleb and Joshua stood alone in their ability to see the giants as puny in the shadow of God. Because they saw the reality of God’s power in relation to any earthly force, Caleb and Joshua had absolute confidence in their Maker. For the people though, their miraculous deliverance from Egypt, the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire, all the irrefutable evidence of God they had personally witnessed – none of it seemed to matter. They saw giants, and they couldn’t see anything else.
It seems unbelievable when you think about it. The only trouble is, I do the same thing. In spite of all my experiences of God over my lifetime, I still get overwhelmed at the giants that show up from time to time. These are the big, persistent, and solution-resistant problems that affect me and those I care about – the ones I can’t do anything about. But then God uses His Word, or a devotional, or a sermon or song, a friend – whatever it takes to remind me that I belong to Him, and He’s still in charge. And when I start seeing more of God, the giants shrink. Then I’m able to stop fretting and trying to fix things, and just keep praying and listening for His direction while I leave the outcome to God. That is, until the next time. Like the Israelites, I’m a slow learner and need a lot of reminding.
So once again I’m finding that facing down giants successfully depends on who I depend on. When I depend on myself, it’s not a good outcome. When I depend on God – meaning, really leaving it in His hands, then I can have peace and start producing the other fruits of the Spirit that had been withering on the vine.
On the brink of the promised land, the Israelites didn’t shift their focus and ended up in the desert for 40 years. And the giants? They were still around when the next generation of Israelites went in to conquer Canaan, but they didn’t stand a chance against people following God’s directions and not their own inclinations. Remember King Og with the big bed? He was one of the giants they defeated.
And so, Lord, I pray that whenever I see a giant problem that threatens to crush me under its weight, I will take giant steps toward You. Thank You for Your patience in teaching me afresh. When I’m thinking clearly, I know that my real enemy is Satan, and that You have already defeated him. As the psalmist says:
Give us aid against the enemy, for human help is worthless.
With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.