God Fights For You
Trouble can find us when we least expect it: a bill in the mail, a bad report from the doctor, a toddler meltdown, a traffic jam, an angry friend. In moments when our world swirls around us or our vision swims before us we have two options: to focus on the difficulty, or to focus on the Difference Maker.
What we focus on makes all the difference.
When a plane rolls into a nose dive, the pilot needs to find the horizon line and focus on that fixed point to realign. When life rolls into a nose dive, we must do the very same thing.
God’s character is our horizon line.
The unchanging truths of who God is, anchor us with an unshakable perspective to navigate through any tossing, torrent or turmoil.
How we view God’s character is key.
When we focus first and foremost on our trouble, God probably seems too far away or too out of touch to really make a difference. But if we focus first and foremost on who our God is, it is our trouble that may seem too out of touch with a God who makes all the difference.
If we focus on how big our problems are, we may miss how much bigger our God is. But when we focus on how big our God is, our troubles shrink down to their proper size.
In our Life Journal readings we’ve come to the middle of the book of 1 Samuel. In Chapters 9-24 we follow the rise and struggles of Saul, the first king of Israel and his anointed successor, a young shepherd boy named David.
The people wanted a king. They were so tired! Enemy after enemy invaded, wreaking havoc upon their homes, their cities, their farms, their peace. They begged God for a leadership dynasty that might guide them out of their own repetitive cycle: Rebel, Repent, Restore.
So God gave them what they asked for. He chose a man who looked every bit the part of valiant king: Saul, son of Kish. He was a head taller than the other men and looked strong and confident. But appearances aren’t everything. Inside, Saul was often a nervous wreck. When it was time for him to be anointed king before the people they couldn’t find him, that is until God pointed him out, cowering behind the baggage!
Not long after Saul became king, his army was being faced down by the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:5-7). His men did the very same thing. They hid! “…in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns.” Saul didn’t know what to do. He waited for the prophet Samuel while his troops were “quaking with fear.” but during the wait his panic rose until finally he decided to offer the sacrifice to God on his own.
“Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived. “What have you done?’ asked Samuel. …’You acted foolishly!'” God doesn’t want us to panic and take things into our own hands! In the face of trouble, God wants us to practice a passionate but patient trust in Who He Is. He is a God who fights for us.
Jonathan, Saul’s son, knew this about God. He knew there is a difference between scrambling around in fear and stepping out in faith. He said to his young armor bearer, “let’s go over to the Philistines outpost… nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or few.’ His armor bearer replied, ‘Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” (14:6-7)
Jonathan trusted God’s leading and in a matter of minutes defeated 20 Philistines. That’s when Saul’s army peaked their heads out of their holes too. Something was happening in the enemy camp.
“A panic struck the whole army [of the Philistines]. It was a panic sent by God. Saul’s lookouts saw the army melting away in all directions.” (1 Samuel 14:15-16).
When we trust and obey God, panic is healed from our own hearts and heaped upon the enemy’s.
When we believe in the unchangeable Character of God, panic is replaced with an unshakeable peace. Jonathan knew who God was. He wasn’t panicked. And he sure wasn’t going to hide. When trouble came, he advanced.
The enemy’s primary weapon is fear. Don’t let him use it on you.
“When all the Israelites who had hidden in the hill country of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were on the run, they joined the battle in hot pursuit.” (1 Samuel 14:22)
Saul was a nervous ruler, often led by jealousy and fear. The problem was rooted in his heart. Saul fostered only a half-hearted dedication to God. Samuel warned him of this many times, but after repeated failures, Saul’s half-hearted devotion finally had to be rejected by God for the leadership of His people. God turned to uncover a whole-hearted faith.
Again Samuel took out his anointing horn. He listened for God’s voice. Which son of Jesse would be chosen? Surely the tallest, the strongest, the oldest? No. Nor his 6 younger brothers either. It was to be the very youngest, the smallest, the almost forgotten one.
Because God looks at the heart.
When He looks at your heart what does He see? A half-hearted faith can’t fully face the troubles of this life. A whole-hearted faith will never be stopped by them.
And sometimes those troubles are giants named Goliath. When Goliath showed his face before Saul and his armies they looked at this giant enemy and saw a 9-foot-tall monster. They were frightened! David looked at Goliath and saw a rebellious mutt who stood there mocking a giant God.
When we focus on the size of our trouble, we miss the true size of our God. When we focus on the size of our God, we see the true size of our trouble.
Goliath and the army of the Philistines were defeated with a simple smooth stone, propelled through the tense air that day by the ferocious force of a whole-hearted faith.
Whole-hearted faith is fierce. Half-hearted faith is faint.
Saul was torn up with jealousy from that point forward. David had to be on his guard -morning, noon and night- until finally he took to living on the run. But never, in all his early moments of trouble and anguish, did David take matters into his own hands. He waited on God to fight for him.
He wrote Psalm 9 on just one of those occasions:
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you; For you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:9-10
God Fights For You: first for your whole heart, then for your trials.
No matter what your eyes may see, God is at work on your behalf. No matter what your fears are saying, God is saying something better. Focus on the unchanging, fixed points of His character. The force of who He is can pull us out of every nose-dive.
May your faith be whole-hearted and fierce! May you focus on the enormous reality of who your God really is. May you trust Him to fight for you!