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5 Damaging Assumptions Applied to 'The Lord Will Fight for You'

  • Jolene Underwood Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
5 Damaging Assumptions Applied to 'The Lord Will Fight for You'

In Exodus 14:14 we’re reminded that God sees what we’re going through and acts on our behalf. The verse reads, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” Other translations replace the word still with “calm” (NLT) or “silent” (ESV).

Whichever way you read it, the words and concept are powerful for weary hearts in need of hope.

While this passage has brought comfort to many, there are times we apply unhealthy meaning to scripture verses—Including this one. We make assumptions which keep us from experiencing God at work and strengthened in our souls for times of adversity. When misused and misapplied, we miss out on more of the peace, joy, and freedom God gives.

Here are five damaging assumptions we apply to “the Lord will fight for you.”

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Assumption #1: We don’t have to do anything.

Assumption #1: We don’t have to do anything.

A limited understanding of this passage can fuel passive faith. The underlying presumption becomes, “Why try? I don’t have to do anything. God will take care of it all for me.” We acquiesce all responsibility for our part.

When He doesn’t intervene the way we think He will, our thoughts may turn against Him, rather than towards His love and power. This is always the work of the enemy, to keep us disconnected from God.

What if God is calling us to stand firm, hold our ground, and say yes or no in the face of oppression?

The Israelites were facing opposition and obstacles all around. Pharaoh’s army was approaching, the mountains surrounded them, and the Red Sea lay before them. In this case, the call to remain still was a specific call to trust God’s way of escape.

What they needed to do was stand firm and trust through their fear. If they didn’t, who knows what kind of chaos and death would have occurred by running.

In their lack of movement, they were actively responding to God’s specific guidance.

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Assumption #2: We shouldn't do anything.

Assumption #2: We shouldn't do anything.

When we assume God will take care of it all and we don’t have to do anything, it can keep us from noticing where we can and should do something.

In the case of the Israelites, they received direction from God for their specific circumstance. He had a purpose, which we see in the preceding and following verses. Our situations may include a similar feeling of threat surrounding us on all sides, however the way God chooses to work in our situation may look very different from the way He provided for the Israelites.

Maybe He’s asking us to wait and not act. Or, He may want us to wait where we are until He tells us to move through a path cleared for us. But it could also be that He wants us to pick up our spiritual armor and fight. Whatever God’s direction is for us in our situations, it has a purpose.

If we assume we shouldn’t do anything, we may close our ears and hearts. We may not recognize the Holy Spirit leading us to act or not act.

Rather than trusting God to lead and provide what we need in our circumstance, we relinquish our ability to act with God. Instead of trusting God to speak to our hearts individually, we may assume none of us should act in situations like this.

This can lead to reticent faith and harmful comments to others about what we think they need.

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Assumption #3: We shouldn’t say anything.

Assumption #3: We shouldn’t say anything.

Perhaps one of the sneakiest ways the enemy works is by convincing us that we need to be silent, rather than speak up, against evil. Proverbs 10:10 says, “People who wink at wrong cause trouble, but a bold reproof promotes peace.” (NLT)

Sometimes, we need to speak up. It could be that God is fighting for us by equipping us to be bold.

When we hold to an assumption that God will do all the work, and we should stay silent, we not only become passive in our own faith and spiritual growth, but we acquiesce to the work of the enemy.

There are times to be silent, often out of great wisdom and personal strength. Sometimes God does direct us to keep quiet. Sometimes we don’t need to add to a conversation when someone shares an opinion we don’t agree with.

However, assuming this is always the case because of what one verse says denies a fuller picture of how God works and what how He might actually lead us to say something hard, but valuable.

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Assumption #4: God will show up and save the day.

Assumption #4: God will show up and save the day.

There’s a term often used by counselors and coaches, “magical thinking.” This kind of thinking happens when we aren’t facing the reality of present situations and believe that somehow, in some way, things will change. On their own. Without our participation.

Believers are prone to magical thinking when we assume God will show up and save the day for us. We take our understanding of God’s power and goodness to mean that He will do something to make the bad stop.

Yet, God is calling us to experience His goodness as we face what’s bad with the one who is fully good.

We all face challenges that seem without escape. When we participate with God by responding to our best understanding of the Holy Spirit leading and God’s Word, we make ourselves available for the way God wants to provide. Which may be through our actions or inaction.

If we assume God will intervene by magically making a way, we might miss the path He’s cleared that seems less obvious. It may be blazing through an unmarked trail or using what you’ve been given as you fight evil.

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Assumption #5: God’s battle plan is known.

Assumption #5: God’s battle plan is known.

Something to keep in mind, as with all of scripture, is the greater context of a passage. This includes who was speaking, whom they were speaking to, why, and how it all fits into the bigger picture of God’s redemptive work.

In this Exodus 14 section of scripture, we’re given a glimpse of God’s intent and several other factors. He tells Moses what to say to the Israelites, what He plans to do, and why. This is rarely the case today. We find great hope in reading how God showed up for the Israelites. The enemy was after them and they were surrounded by land and sea without visible means of escape. Their minds and hearts were flooded with fear because the only solution they saw was what they could foresee. Not what God saw all along.

Each of our situations are different. Each of us play a part in God’s overall purpose throughout time.

We cannot presume God will do for us what He did for someone else. If we do, we will experience disappointment, discouragement, and even despair, because our hope was in our plan. Not His.

Consider this scenario: someone shares details about a tough circumstance. Someone else responds with words intended for encouragement, “But the Lord will fight for you! You only need to be still.”

The one who’s struggling may not hear encouragement. Instead, they feel pressure to “suck it up” and defer to God, because He will fight for them. Their honest depiction of challenge is suddenly deemed not okay and a false sense of "okay-ness" seems required.

Rather than listening and responding to God’s leading for their unique situation, they might give up instead. If God is asking us to step into hard things, and we deny the strength and courage He gives to walk through it, we miss out on so much of God’s power in our lives.

When we read verses like this one in Exodus, may we remember our motivations and understandings are not wholly accurate. Even so, God’s is.

May we not let the enemy use a passage in scripture as a stumbling block for active faith. May we seek God repeatedly as He shapes our hearts for His truth applied in our lives.

He speaks life to weary souls. May we receive what God intends, and not meanings based on our expectations and limitations. He is the courage-giver and we are courage-receivers. We may need to remain still and wait for something He wants to do, or move forward to see how He shows up along the way.

If you’re unsure of what that looks like today, I’m praying for you.


headshot of Jolene UnderwoodJolene Underwood is an emotional health warrior and soul care mentor. She draws upon her personal journey towards emotional health, her psychology background, and passion for counseling to help others cultivate a life well-lived no matter the circumstance. She also leads a community called Rise Up Writers which offers practical and spiritual care for the life of a Christian communicator. Connect with her online via YouTube/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest at @theJoleneU or via the Cultivated Life Newsletter.Want help connecting with God through His Word? Grab this limited-time FREE resource. Cultivate Connection Sheet.

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