Never before have I seen such a season as this (nor have you, I imagine). The Coronavirus has changed our world in the blink of an eye. It was like a tidal wave we saw coming from a long distance, hoping it wouldn’t make it to our shore. Even with such advanced warning, there is so much still unknown.
We don’t know who is carrying the virus, who will catch it, or how sick they will become. We don’t know when life will return to “normal”. With life and job losses increasing, life may never be the same for some of us.
For now, we are told to wait in response to this pandemic, as isolated as possible.
Our country is facing uncertainty like never before. This virus has impacted our society in untold ways.
Honestly, I cannot think of much that this virus has not interrupted. It has us scratching our heads at the fact that as Americans, we are left so vulnerable to its crippling effect.
Aren’t we somewhat astounded? I know I am!
Shock can soon turn into dismay as we respond to the increasing upheaval, and all with no real timeline. I remember my husband articulating our fear as parents when two of our children were struggling. He said, “It wouldn’t be so bad if we only knew how long this was going to last or if it will be resolved at all.”
The uncertainty can be terrifying, but does it have to be?
This year I am reading through the Bible chronologically and it has been perfect timing for this season of uncertainty. I read Joshua 1-2 this morning and I couldn’t help but see some parallels.
Joshua is entering his own season of uncertainty as he becomes the leader of the fickle, rebellious Israelites. I don’t think it is insignificant that God tells him 7 different times (between the end of Deuteronomy and the first two chapters of Joshua) to be “strong and courageous”. In my belief, God kept repeating that because Joshua felt anything BUT strong and courageous.
Isn’t that how many of us are feeling right now? This virus has us questioning everything from where we can find the groceries we need to how we are going to pay our bills. Forget about what we want to do for fun. So many are wondering how to work AND take care of their kids who are no longer in school.
Do I pay the rent or stay home to watch the kids? Because I can’t work and watch the kids at the same time!
Do I go to the grocery store and risk coming in contact with the virus?
Even as God knew the challenges Joshua would be facing, so He knows ours. Still, He gave this charge to Joshua in Joshua 1:9 and I believe it is just as much for us.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you whereer you go.
I did some research recently for a retreat I was speaking at and this passage was the basis for our theme. I learned how God literally COMMANDED Joshua to be strong and courageous. That alone is intimidating. But then I noticed how God was so specifically against being afraid or discouraged. Oftentimes when I read the Bible, I am wondering why God says what He says so it was natural for me to hone in on this.
It became obvious how being afraid and discouraged was the opposite of being strong and courageous.
Whenever God repeats something, it is to drive home the significance of it. If you read the Bible much at all, you recognize how often God tells His people to refrain from being fearful, afraid, terrified, fainthearted, etc. Additionally, as I consider “discouragement”, which really means ‘a loss of confidence’, it becomes clear why these two feelings matter to God.
Feeling afraid or discouraged is in actuality a reveal about what we believe. Our feelings testify more accurately than our mouths at times. We may say we trust God but when we are giving in to feelings of fear or discouragement, we show that we are NOT trusting God at all. We doubt His Word, His work and His will for that matter.
In essence, we doubt God’s character and His intentions toward us.
THAT is a big deal!
And that is why it matters to God when we are afraid or discouraged because of the uncertainty of our circumstances. God never intended for us to feel assured by knowing all the pertinent details concerning us. His plan was for us to feel assured because we knew HIM, the One in control over any and all circumstances, even the chaotic ones.
Therefore, our feelings either witness FOR God or AGAINST us. They are a better reflection of what we truly believe than we realize.
Whenever we are faced with uncertainty, it is like a fork in the road. Feeling the initial moments of fear or concern is normal. What is important is what we do next. We will either remember what God has said and done or we won’t. That’s the bottom line.
As the Israelites approached their promised land in Numbers 13-14 , they were faced with the same choice. Would they remember what God had said or would they let what their eyes saw and their ears heard be what determined their response?
Unfortunately, they chose to let fear and discouragement drive their reaction. Instead of responding to their uncertainty by remaining confident in God’s history regarding them, they reacted by feeling as though it was all up to them to take care of themselves.
I recently read something on social media that has stuck with me- “Don’t let what you see make you forget what God has said.” The Israelites did just that. They forgot. But let’s be clear, it was a choice to do so.
As humans, we want a life where we do not need to CHOOSE faith. We want our lives easy enough so that faith isn’t required. But that’s not how this works.
God proves Himself to us over and over. He wants us to use that history with Him to help us process the uncertainty of today.
I remember when I was panicking over the struggles of two of our children. Life was filled with uncertainty back then and I was becoming unglued. I let fear and discouragement become my new norm. It was a lesson learned the hard way but I certainly remember it. God showed me my faulty thinking and choices back then and it has changed the way I process uncertainty forevermore.
The fruit from making poor choices in life and faith is that we can learn from them. They can end up helping us change for the better. I see this happen to the Israelites. In Numbers 14, they were told the way they should respond to the fear and discouragement from the uncertainty of entering the promised land-
Then Moses and Aaron fell facedown in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there. Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
The Israelites chose to rebel by being afraid and refusing to go into the land even though it was exceeding good and God had promised to be with them. This choice when they faced their fork in the road would delay them 40 years until they could have their “do-over” in Joshua 2:1, 23-24.
Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.”
Then the two men started back. They went down out of the hills, forded the river and came to Joshua son of Nun and told him everything that had happened to them. They said to Joshua, “The Lord has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear because of us.”
This time, they had a different response. They did not give way to the questions of how their circumstances would ever work out ok for them. They remained confident that though they didn’t know WHAT God was going to do, they knew He would certainly do something to take care of them!
The Israelites had their “do-over” and used their hard-earned lessons to help them process the fear and discouragement from looking at formidable circumstances. That is exactly what God wants us to do today!
As we stand at our fork in the road, looking at the unknown future before us, considering the challenges that feel so intimidating, let us remember what God has done on our behalf before.
Last year in our church disciple group, I was asked what I felt hopeless about and as I pondered the question, my response became “Nothing!”. After seeing God work through the years regarding our children, it changed the way I process circumstances. I know that there are only 2 possibilities now whenever I come to a fork in the road. Either God will get me through it or He will take me home to heaven.
No longer do I NEED to know what the future holds, what MAY happen or HOW LONG a trial will last. Whatever is around the corner for me or my family, God is already there waiting for us so He can help us face it. I am fully confident that God is sovereignly over whatever concerns us and He is lovingly attending to it on our behalf. That peace permeates my every fiber and I can enjoy that security today because of the lessons learned from giving way to fear and discouragement earlier in my life.
Fear and discouragement are the tell-tale signs of the devil’s schemes in our life. They reveal his hand at work against us but we are more than equipped to take those feelings right to the feet of Jesus. As we come to Him and cast our cares upon Him, we are revealing our trust in His abilities and intentions.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22
So dear friends, lift your eyes- your help is on the way! This is our “Godfidence”!
Hope in the face of uncertainty? #Godfidence Click To Tweet
I lift up my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.Psalm 121:1-2