Facing the Giants
David is not moved by his opponent’s intimidating appearance. He doesn’t see that the odds are against him. He doesn’t care that no one believes in him. He holds steadfast in his faith and replies to Goliath, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands.”
He starts to sprint toward Rambo as the giant galumphs toward the boy, ready to crush the runt with one slam of his monstrous foot. With sling in one hand, stone in another, David picks up the pace. Both armies clank their spears and swords on their shields in a boisterous chorus that doesn’t even match the roar that bellows out of Goliath’s mouth.
And then, midstride, arms raised, David lifts the sling. Aim. Fire. And while the second army gasps in horror, Goliath, blood gushing from the wound in the dead center of his forehead, collapses to the ground.
How does a shepherd believe he can crush a giant? Where does he get such confidence? Was it skill? A ton of practice? The power of positive thinking?
Sure, his skill set was part of it, but what gave David the courage was his deep faith. He lived it. While tasked with tending the sheep in the fields, he developed his relationship with God. And as a result of working his faith out, David was able to push aside his fears and crush every giant in his path—the lion, the bear, and Goliath.
The Voices of Negativity
If you look at successful people, at some point they all struggled with self-doubt or discouragement or were just down in the dumps. But they didn’t stay in that place. They made the choice to keep believing, to keep pressing on, to keep growing and changing.
Growth is tough. It’s painful. Do you know the only way to build muscle is to tear down the muscle fibers? This is what happens when you work out. And this process actually helps repair and strengthen the muscle.
Are you willing to grow spiritually? Emotionally? Are you willing to invest time, energy, and work into personal growth? Are you willing to stop complaining and to do something better to improve yourself? The best way to battle your inner critic is to grow, to change, to show progress in your areas of struggle.
As John Maxwell says, “Growth is the great separator of those who succeed long term from those who do not. When I see a person beginning to separate themselves from the pack, it’s almost always due to personal growth.”
God’s Got It
Just like fear is a powerful emotion that gets in the way of believing in God, so is bitterness. And it’s an easy thing to feel. Who wouldn’t be bitter when, through no fault of your own, you lost your job, went bankrupt, and didn’t know how you were going to house and feed your kids? Who wouldn’t be bitter if your sister was in a car accident and didn’t make it but the drunk driver who crashed into her did? Though the temptation to drown in resentment may be great, all bitterness does is eat away at us like a disease.
Christian apologist Lee Strobel says, “Acrid bitterness inevitably seeps into the lives of people who harbor grudges and suppress anger, and bitterness is always a poison. It keeps your pain alive instead of letting you deal with it and get beyond it.”
Put more bluntly, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
While we can choose to trust God and still wrestle with doubt, we cannot trust Him while holding on to bitterness. Bitterness and trust cannot coexist.
Who’s in your circle of trust? It doesn’t have to be a big group of people. It works if you just have two or three people that you can trust, count on to pray for you, wrestle with you on big decisions, and offer wise advice. These are people who are going to tell you the truth, what you need to hear, rather than what you want to hear.
Sometimes you need someone to remind you to dig deep with God, to keep up the faith, to stay in the fight. It’s easy to become complacent because life gets in the way. When tough times come or we get stuck in the routine of the dailies, we can forget what matters. And it can be pretty easy to stop growing spiritually, to stop talking to God, and stop learning about the faith walk.
What matters is being surrounded by people who speak truth into you, who support you when you feel weak, and who encourage you when you feel like you just can’t do it anymore. (It goes without saying that you should strive to be this kind of friend to others.) Having people like this in your life helps you live at your best. It helps you strive to be better than average, more than ordinary, far above normal.
Who Said Normal Is the Goal?
Euripides, one of the greatest authors of the Greek tragedies, wrote, “There is just one life for each of us: our own.”
Be who God created you to be. And stand out for the right reason. Don’t fight against what’s right or what’s possible just to get approval or applause from others. And don’t hide or stay quiet for the sake of not making waves and being just like everyone else.
Be bold. Brave. Courageous.
Instead of viewing those you admire as perfect and incapable of messing up and calling them out in judgment when they do, place your eyes on Jesus instead. He is perfect. He is the one constant who is forever doing right, forever loving, forever faithful, forever unchanging. Humans are flawed and limited, but God is not. We are human, He is not. Look up to God, not others.
And don’t let the knowledge that you are an imperfect human being stop you from taking a stand. Think about what you can do to make life a little bit better, maybe even a little bit easier for someone else. Are you willing to volunteer for that organization? Or do the right thing at your job even though it’s not convenient? Or fight for that child? Or commit to your family? Are you willing to take a stand for people in impoverished countries to have clean water? Or stand up for people who can’t stand up for themselves?
What stand are you willing to take?
The Power of Doing Something
Many people don’t even try to reach out and help others because they’re scared their efforts won’t matter or won’t make much of a difference. Have courage and at least try. Even if you fail, at least you will have planted a seed. You don’t know what God can do with one step forward, with a raised hand, with a heart that says yes, with five loaves and two fish, with a slingshot and a few stones. Don’t limit what He can do based on how you limit yourself. Be yourself, and let God be God.
The little things we do each day add up to something greater, something we will ultimately leave behind. And what that ends up looking like for you and for me will depend on how we live, knowing whose we are.
What Matters Most
If your world is shaken and you feel lost and heartbroken in your pain, accept God’s gift of salvation. He offers you a new life, an abundant life. A life in union with Him. A life of meaning. A life of purpose. A life of joy. Yes, even in the midst of suffering.
The journey of faith isn’t easy. Life isn’t easy. But when you are united to Jesus by faith, you can begin to move mountains. Listen, you’re going to doubt. You’re going to fall short. You’re going to struggle on some days. But know that God loves you. Know that He has an amazing plan for your life.
Trusting Him isn’t a magic-carpet ride into a life free of problems, trouble, or suffering, but that it’s worth it. When you make the choice to show up and show out for Jesus, He will show up and show out for you.
Roy Lessin said, “Just think, you’re here not by chance, but by God’s choosing. His hand formed you and made you the person you are. He compares you to no one else—you are one of a kind. You lack nothing that His grace can’t give you. He has allowed you to be here at this time in history to fulfill His special purpose for this generation.”
Continue to fight. Continue to hope. Continue to have faith. It’s worth it.