When GIANT Fear Threatens Our Faith
I know that I know truth the Lord has shown me about Him, His word and His calling on my life. In the quiet of my heart when I set my eyes solely on Him, I don’t even know what to do with the hope and belief He stirs in my spirit and soul!
Then a giant presents itself. Fear and doubt emerge. Then despair. Then I find myself wanting to quit whatever it is I was doing in faith in the first place.
It’s the Grasshopper Syndrome: fear threatens my faith and someone becomes a grasshopper: either the giant or me. Who it is depends on where I choose to stare: at the giant or at my Giant God.
Currently, I fall prey to Grasshopper Syndrome it every time I attempt to tackle the groundwork for presenting my new Bible study to a publisher this summer at She Speaks 2016, a conference for writers and speakers. I set out to do the work it requires and immediately encounter giants. Publishers want to see a new author with a platform of tens of thousands of followers. GIANT. They want you to have tens of thousands of blog subscribers (and someone un-subscribes from your blog as you write a blog about giants). GIANT! They want to see regular speaking engagements past and future. GIANT. You must have a compelling hook for your book. GIANT. They want to see your marketing plan for your book – endorsements, promotions, articles, and so on. GIANTS!!!
The land is full of them, just like Canaan when the Israelite spies scope out the Promised Land.
The Israelites know that they know God has promised them the land, and they find it exactly as He described it: flowing with milk and honey with produce so massive and abundant it takes two spies to carry back a sample suspended from a pole between them!
All the Israelites have to do is go and take the land.
But when the delegation of spies return, proof of God’s faithfulness dangling from the pole, they separate like oil and water into two distinct groups: the Terrified Ten, who only see the frightening and impossible, and the Terrific Two, Caleb and Joshua, who only see the greatness and faithfulness of their God.
The Terrified Ten “give the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out” (Numbers 13:32, emphasis mine) – the land devours its inhabitants, the people are strong – they’re giants – and they’re everywhere!!! Their cities are fortified and large and they’re everywhere!!!
Even as the Terrific Two counter with equally intense faith and courage, insisting the land is an exceedingly good land, just as God promised, and they are well able to overcome it, the Terrified Ten capture the hearts of the congregation in their trembling hands. Here are their exact words:
We were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight (Numbers 13:33).
There it is: the Grasshopper Syndrome. Eyes on the enormity of the giants, they are grasshoppers in the giants’ eyes, and they see themselves as grasshoppers.
Grasshoppers breed grasshoppers, and the congregation becomes a Crying Crowd, believing the bad report of the Terrified Ten and focusing on the giants. Weeping and wailing, perhaps with the backs of their hands planted on their foreheads, two fingers forming a distinct V for victim, they cry:
"Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, "Let us select a leader and return to Egypt" (Numbers 14:3-4).
They take their eyes off God and His greatness and embrace fear, feeling sorry for their sorry circumstances and looking to what they know to regain a sense of comfort and security, even though what they know is slavery!
Aren’t we just like them? On one hand we have God’s promises and on the other the world’s report – what is seen in the natural – and just like the Israelites, we choose to believe the natural! We hear a scary report about something and we cry and weep because we’re overcome with fear and despair. We have another fight with our spouse or kids, someone we love makes another bad decision or is diagnosed with cancer. Politics, wars and rumors of wars, financial insecurity and unstable markets, layoffs and unemployment reports, terrorist attacks and news of ISIS sleeper cells on our own soil. The reports are bad!
Who wouldn’t struggle with fear and uncertainty and be tempted to cry and weep!?!? So we throw up our own V and cry:
“Why God? Why are You doing or allowing this? Are You even there? Why would You bring me this far and then let me face something so impossible?”
But not Joshua and Caleb. They don’t see grasshoppers and giants; all they see is their great and mighty God! Listen to the words of the Terrific Two and let them be our call to faith, even in the land of our own giants, where we’re grasshoppers in everyone’s eyes BUT GOD’S:
The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, “a land which flows with milk and honey.” Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the LORD is with us. Do not fear them" (Numbers 14:7-9).
Who’s the grasshopper now?
Eyes on God, giants become grasshoppers God will crush under His feet as He brings about His plan! We just have to remain focused on who He is and what He says He’ll do, and BELIEVE Him. Then trust what He promises and shows us to be true or next, in faith moving forward in obedience. Doing what He says! Taking the land even though it looks impossible!
Going ahead with the book proposal. Applying for the college or job. Staying in our marriage. Praying for our children and having one more hard conversation. Standing firm on God’s truth and in our convictions, even if we’re the only one. Tithing when the numbers don’t add up. Paying off debt. Moving to a new town. Starting a new career. Taking one next step, even though we have no idea what the step after that will be.
The stakes are high. God will accomplish His plan with or without us. The Israelites still took the Promised Land, just not a single one who cowered in unbelief. They took the side of fear and lost the blessing of entering the Promised Land. We will too.
When we shrink back from what we know God has for us to do because we are focused on the giants in our way, we lose. This is exactly what the devil wants! He can’t take away our salvation, but he can keep us from walking in God’s promises. He wants us to see ourselves as grasshoppers in our giants’ eyes and in our own, because as long as we think we’re the grasshopper, our fear of giants will overrule our faith in God.
But when our focus is on the bigness of God, His faithfulness to do exactly what He says no matter what we see in the natural, and the truth of who He says we are in Christ no matter what we see or feel in the natural, the giants that loom large in the land become the grasshoppers!
Is there a land to which the Lord is calling you, but every time you make a move to take it, you encounter giants?
You don’t have to be the grasshopper.
Tomorrow, I’ll share what today’s scripture teaches us about overcoming Grasshopper Syndrome. I call it the 10/2 Rule for Choosing Faith When Facing GIANT Fear: ten truths and two steps for slaying fear as we step into the land God has for us in faith.