Facing a Giant? You’re Not Alone!

photo credit: Fried Dough via photopin cc
photo credit: Fried Dough via photopin cc

A very real problem for all of us is that we tend to profess a depth of faith in God that we do not actually possess. Faith is easy on the mountaintop. The battlefield trenches of life are an entirely different matter. A football team may spend a lot of time practicing in preparation for the first game of the season against their arch rivals, but it isn’t until they step onto the field of play that their true abilities become evident.

All too often, our version of the gospel speaks only of God’s forgiveness in light of our sinfulness, of the efficacy of grace as opposed to our impotent works, of the glories of heaven compared to the pain of this world. All of these things are true, but they fail to present a complete picture. We even go so far as to portray the Old Testament Promised Land as an image of heaven. Do we actually believe that we will have to drive enemies out of heaven? No, each of us has a promised land, a favorable destiny, in this world.

photo credit: Monica's Dad via photopin cc
photo credit: Monica’s Dad via photopin cc

Why is it that every promised land has its share of giants? Why, when we seek that which we believe to be good, must we face health problems, a lack of finances, and all sorts of opposition—not only from others but also from within ourselves? And why, tell me, must these issues loom so large? There are times when a few miniature giants would do me just fine!

We sometimes fail to grasp that God saves us in order to restore us to His image (Romans 8:29), and that His image is that of the ultimate overcomer. God’s goal is never to save us for a sweet eternity only, but to transform us into champions of the faith. By definition, a champion is a person who defeats all opponents; the more formidable the opposition, the greater the champion. You would be unimpressed if I told you that I once knocked out every kid in my son’s fourth-grade class in a boxing tournament. But, if you saw me wearing an Olympic gold medal (that I had actually earned), you would immediately think of greatness. Until we face and overcome genuine giants, we are not true champions in the arena of life.

Our response to our personal giants reveals the true depths of our faith. The fact that we have sufficient faith in one area of life does not necessarily mean that we trust God in all areas. When fear, anxiety, frustration, anger, and bitterness take root in our hearts, they indicate areas in which our faith is shallow. Thus, every giant is in a sense tailor-made to help us grow in these areas. Am I saying that God is responsible for raising opposition against us? Not necessarily! Our fallen world provides more than enough difficult challenges to our faith. I do know, however, that our loving Father will use even the largest obstacles for His sovereign purposes.

Like the ten doubting spies of Numbers 13, many of us tend to view our giants as signs that God has abandoned us. Very few have the heart of a Joshua or a Caleb. Later in time, only the shepherd boy David stood up against the Philistine champion Goliath, while Saul and all of his mighty men cowered in fear.

photo credit: saturn ♄ via photopin cc
photo credit: saturn ♄ via photopin cc

How we respond to our giants will impact, not only our lives, but also the generations that follow. Sadly, David had to face Goliath only because Joshua’s generation failed to completely destroy their generation of behemoths. We can only imagine how Anak’s descendants tormented the nation of Israel for 400 years until a shepherd boy with David’s faith happened along. And not only did the kid fell that monster of a man, he used Goliath’s own sword to finish the job. God loves to show off by transforming our greatest weaknesses into our greatest strengths!

(This post is based on the content of my new book, Champions in the Wilderness, which is now available for sale through Amazon. Also, when our new SfMe Media website goes live, our blog posts will be switched our new ministry website, searchforme.info and this blog site will be phased out. You can subscribe to by entering your email in the subscribe panel on the right-hand side of the new website.)

Facing the Impossible?

Photo by kaagen - MorgueFile

Disappointment. Discouragement. Frustration. All are words that often characterize our responses to difficult, if not impossible, circumstances. As I look back over my life I see so many difficulties and impossibilities. Why, I ask, is it that life always seems to be so hard? Why are there always so many challenges and so many limitations? If I am truly walking with God, then I should think that life and ministry would be much easier than the reality I’ve experienced.

And yet when I stop to consider the big picture I can see the hand of God at work in a truly powerful way. Based on the circumstances I’ve faced, my life really shouldn’t have worked out as well as it has to this point. What’s up with that?

In a sense I’ve always known that God wants to perfect His faith in me, but still I’ve struggled with the limitations and difficulties I continue to face. And then it dawned on me. (I’m sure I heard it before, but something didn’t quite register.) How many significant people in Bible can you name who did not face impossible circumstances? The Son of God Himself was born into an impossible situation and given an impossible mission!

Can we name a few Biblical notables who faced a wide array of incredible difficulties?  Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Esther, Ruth, David, Mary, Paul . . . and the list goes on and on and on. Actually, a far greater difficulty would be to name a handful of heroes of the faith who had it comfortable and easy! How is it that we have come to think that a blessed life should be a walk in the park?

Photo by xandert - MorgueFile

God likes to grow people, but growth never comes by way of comfort. Personal discipline certainly helps. But there’s nothing like impossible circumstances when it comes to forging our character and firmly establishing our faith—if, and only if, we latch onto the promises of God when it appears as though He is devilishly absent.

There’s something noble and romantic about responding to an altar call to be willing to attempt the impossible for God. But that’s when you’re standing on a spiritual mountain top where the presence of God is thick and emotions are running high. Any and everything seems possible then. To come down from the mountain to face the day to day realities of trench warfare, or simply mundane living—well that’s an entirely different matter.

What would happen if we stopped lamenting our impossibilities and began embracing them as opportunities to see God move? As opportunities for us to grow in a faith that is more precious than gold? I can’t say exactly, but I am in the process of finding out. And truth be told, there is very little disappointing, discouraging and frustrating about seeing God reveal Himself in powerful and amazing ways!

“Against hope Abraham believed in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations according to the pronouncement, ‘so will your descendants be.’ Without being weak in faith, he considered his own body as dead (because he was about one hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do. So indeed it was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” Romans 4:18-22 (NET)