When you look on line there are many different lists of things people fear:
Fear of flying
Thunder and Lightening
Open or Crowded Places
Fears that Get in the Way of You Succeeding
Something Bad Happening
What would be on your list of fears? Because we all have them don’t we? We all have areas of our lives that if we are not careful can become a tsunami of fear, overwhelming us and making us feel completely unable to move ahead in any kind of meaningful way. Or maybe for you, fear is like a piece of string on your favorite sweater that you just keep pulling on, afraid that if you don’t stop everything is going to unravel, but compulsively going back to it to give it just one more little pull. Fear always seems to be in the background of our lives, and sometimes comes roaring to front and center.
In the story of David and Goliath, David certainly seems to have really good reasons to fear, to be afraid. And yet, he’s not. He tells the people around him: Let no one lose heart! In other words, “no worries, I’ve got this.”
The Bible is full of examples of God telling his people not to fear, not to be afraid. Whenever an angel appears, their first words are almost always, “Fear not!” Jesus in the Gospel reading this morning rebukes his friends for their fear in the storm. And they go from being afraid they are going to drown, to being terrified because of Jesus’ great power.
I don’t think of myself as normally a fearful person, yet my life verse, that the Lord gave me when I was in high school is Isaiah 43: But not this is what the Lord says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Perhaps the Lord knew me better than I knew myself, perhaps he knew that fear would be a problem for me, if I did not keep my heart focused on him. I certainly have gone back to this verse again and again through the years!
Over and over, God tells us in Scripture: Do not fear. And we need to hear that voice because there are so, so many other voices who will tell us that we should be afraid, we should be very afraid! Saul was that voice for David.
The first thing Saul says to David is: “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy.” Basically, this is the: You don’t have what it takes lie that we hear when we are facing something scary. I don’t know about you, but that voice is really strong in my head sometimes. Every single time I sat down to work on my dissertation, I would have to push through that, “Who do you think you are? You don’t have what it takes to complete this work. You might as well just quit!” voice in my head. Every single time. It just never went away.
What about you? Do you ever hear that voice in your head? That “You don’t have what it takes” voice? It’s a lie, and God says, “Fear not.”
Saul goes on to say, “He (Goliath) has been fighting men from his youth.” This is the “your enemy is too strong” lie. That lie dresses up in all different kinds of clothes in our lives: You will never be free from that addiction, so you might as well give up. You will never stop being depressed, you might as well kill yourself. You will never have someone love you in a healthy way, so you might as well settle for being treated like garbage. Where in your life are you struggling with this voice: You will never win. Your enemy is too strong. There is no hope. It’s a lie, and God says, “Fear not.”
The story goes on to this sort of ridiculous episode: Saul says, “Well, all right,” and then dresses David up in his armor, helmet and sword to prepare him for the battle. Have you ever seen a little kid trying to walk around in her Daddy’s shoes? It was a lot like that! David sort of staggers around a bit, and then says, “I’m not used to these.” They just don’t fit.
David takes off all of Saul’s armor, goes outside and finds five smooth stones that will work perfectly in his sling shot, and off he goes to face the giant. I want to stop here a minute. David is just a kid, but he has spent years outside guarding his father’s flocks, and since they didn’t have cell phones back then, about the only thing he had to do while he was sitting around watching those sheep graze, was practicing shooting stuff with his sling shot. “I wonder if I can hit that bird in that tree? I wonder if I can hit that chipmunk?” “I wonder if I can hit that leaf?” It was something he was very familiar and comfortable using. And I wonder if part of what God wants us to learn from this story is: Don’t wear someone else’s armor: Trust that God has given you what you need to fight this battle. Even as I say that, I think, “yeah, but… sometimes when we’ve been fighting something a long time, we need to try something different.” And, “sometimes we need other people to help us fight our fears, our giants.” And those things are both true.
But I also think, part of facing our fears, of slaying our giants is to realize that God has been at work in our lives already, giving us exactly the skills we need for this moment, when we stand face to face with our fear, and put it to death. God provided for David: David has the skill with the sling shot he needed to fight Goliath, and there were five smooth stones, exactly where David could find them to use as his weapons.
So what are the five smooth stones God has prepared for you to use as a weapon to slay the giant of fear in your life? Scripture for sure is part of what God gives us to help us defeat our fear. As I just said, Isaiah 43:1-4 has been a stone I go back to again and again, when I get in situations where I feel overwhelmed by fear. Prayer can be another weapon we use as we stand face to face with our fear. Bringing our fear to God, asking for his help is another weapon that can help us defeat fear.
A trusted friend or counselor can be another one of the smooth stones we use to fight our fear. We need a person to come alongside us, to remind us that we are not alone in this battle. Maybe a there is a podcast that you listen to, that helps you gain perspective, it can serve as another weapon God has given you to fight your fear. Maybe part of your arsenal against fear is a journal you keep, reminding you of God’s faithfulness in the past and his continued presence now. Perhaps some kind of artistic expression: a poem, a song, a painting are part of the way God equips you to stand against fear and defeat it.
As we face our fears, I think it is important for us to remember that God has given us what we need for this battle. Even the failures in our past, are part of our equipping to succeed this time.
David knew this as he went out to face Goliath. He said to Goliath, “It is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you (enemies) into our hands.”
We do our part; David stepped out onto the battlefield and used his slingshot; but ultimately it is God who is at work giving us the victory. David does not fear because he knows who God is, and he knows God goes with him.
My friends, the end of our story is already written: our God wins! He has defeated death. He has defeated sin. He has defeated all the powers that work for our destruction. We do not need to be defeated by our fears, because we know that our God is the one who already holds victory in his hands. He is seated on the throne in the heavenlies. There is no one more powerful than him.
His disciples saw Jesus’ power and feared him… who has this kind of power? Your God. Your God, the One who loves you has that kind of power. Your God, the one who goes before you has that kind of power. Your God, the one who has gifted you with everything you need to stand in victory has that kind of power. Your God will be with you in your battle against the giant of fear in your life. So, in Jesus’ name, let’s go kill some giants this week.