By challenge here I am referring to anything that stretches our faith. Some challenges can be exciting, some daunting, all are within the permissive will of a loving heavenly Father, who expresses His confidence in us over and over again in the scriptures. Well, in fact He expresses His confidence in Christ in us, and in the Holy Spirit’s equipping and leading of us through trials and difficulties.
Throughout the Bible there are many examples of God’s people facing challenges that they felt, even knew, were beyond them and their own capacity to handle. How they received those challenges, particularly in respect of how they saw themselves and their resources as God’s servants, was crucial to their success.
Let’s look first of all at Joshua and Caleb and the ten spies when faced with the challenge of ‘taking the Promised Land’. After having seen the size of the fortified cities and the giants Joshua and Caleb said “We should go up and take possession of the land for we can certainly do it”, the other ten said in effect ‘no way’, “all the people there are of a great size……. We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes”. Numbers 13:26-32. The end of that story is that Joshua and Caleb were the only two from those twelve who entered the Promised Land.
How about David and Saul? They were both chosen and anointed to be Kings of Israel. The key to how they did is in how they saw themselves. One became famous for his success as King and the other dipped out badly after a good start. Saul, was described as ‘an impressive young man without equal among the Israelites, and a head taller than any of the others’ 1 Samuel 9:2, but when it was time to be anointed king, and inspite of having had an extraordinary experience of the power of God coming on his life 1 Samuel 10:9-11, he hid himself in the baggage (verse 22).
David on the other hand was mocked as a young upstart, but then without any armour, just his trust in the God who was with him and for him, slew the giant Goliath, survived being unjustly turned into an outlaw and became a great king. Saul is tall but afraid because he, like the ten spies, is small in His own eyes. David faced with a giant wasn’t afraid, knowing that ‘the battle is the Lord’s’ 1 Samuel 17:47. How we see ourselves, in the light of God’s promises to us, is so very important.
A good example of this truth is Gideon, who we have mentioned in these blogs before. He started off seeing himself as very small and insignificant and yet he ‘hears’ how God sees him and goes in the strength of the Lord and delivers Israel from the Midianites. Judges 6:15,16. There are so many references in the Old Testament and New to the Lord giving His people ‘strength’, and so many stories of people facing huge difficulties. It is very noticeable that the ones who succeeded were the ones who chose to see themselves the way God saw them, and to see God as their strengthener and deliverer.
So what about us? I believe that if we can give thanks to God for both the challenges and trials that come our way, we are in fact expressing our trust and confidence in who God has made us to be in Christ. Thanksgiving for the situation we find ourselves in gives voice to our faith that He will always be with us, and that He will enable us to walk in triumph, to be ‘more than conquerors through Him who loved us’ Romans 8:37.
We know that Paul went through many trials for his faith before he wrote the verses just quoted, and he also wrote ‘I can do everything through Him who gives me strength’ Philippians 4:13. Thanksgiving then, brings us into agreement with the Lord, and at the same time enables us to receive His strength and provision for all the challenges that come our way.