Your company is doing another round of layoffs, and you’re pretty sure you’re going to get the axe.
Your wife left a few weeks ago, and she has no interest in reconciling.
You’ve tried for years to kick this addiction, but you slipped back into it yesterday, and you can’t look at yourself in the mirror.
You’re hip-deep in debt, and you just got a huge bill that you can’t pay.
A giant is taunting you from across a battlefield. And you know that you have to go out and fight him. What are you going to do?
Just pray about it. Right?
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Facing Your Giants
Every morning and evening for 40 days, a massive enemy, Goliath, had challenged the army of Israel to send one man to face him. If that man killed Goliath, then Goliath’s army would surrender. King Saul had sweetened the pot, offering great riches to the man who would battle Goliath.
But facing this giant was a suicide mission, and no one wanted to die.
Goliath was a mountain of a man—possibly nine feet tall. His coat of mail weighed 120 pounds. The head of his spear weighed over 14 pounds.
Then a teenager named David came to camp, to bring food to his older brothers who served in the army of Israel. When he learned about Goliath’s challenge, David stunned everyone by stating that he would battle the giant and defeat him.
And David did.
How did he face such a monumental challenge? What was his strategy?
Certainly, David prayed about it. So did Saul. So did everyone in the army of Israel. But prayer was only one element of David’s approach…just as it should be only one element of your approach as you prepare to face your own giant.
By putting his trust in God, David gained confidence that he could succeed.
By remembering God’s help in the past, David gained insight into how to approach a new problem.
By relying on God’s creative Spirit, David found an innovative solution.
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Trusting in God Gives You Confidence
By the time David arrived on the scene, the Israelites in Saul’s army had heard Goliath’s challenge 80 times. Each of the soldiers was “dismayed and terrified.” In fact, every time Goliath showed up in the Philistine battle line, the Israelites “fled in fear.”
When David heard the challenge for the first time, he was not afraid. He was angry that an “uncircumcised Philistine” was defying “the armies of the living God.” And he was mystified that everyone around him was cowering in fear. He asked, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel?” When he was told how Saul would reward such a man, David repeated his question to someone else, as if he couldn’t believe his ears.
Defeat the Philistines. Restore honor to Israel. Gain great rewards from the king. David focused on the benefits of winning, not on the downsides of losing.
That’s a confident young man. In fact, when he reported to Saul, David told the king, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
Why was David so confident? He trusted in God.
When he faced Goliath on the field of battle, David told the giant:
You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that 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 into our hands. – 1 Samuel 17:45-47
The soldiers of Israel were worried about losing. David, in contrast, wasn’t worried about anything.
If you are daunted by the challenge you face, then start by trusting that God will bring you through it. By trusting in God, you’ll overcome worry and gain confidence.
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Remembering God’s Past Help Gives You Direction
Trusting in God gives you not just confidence but also direction, as David’s son Solomon wrote years later:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths. – Proverbs 3:5-6
One good way to trust in God is to remember how God has helped you in the past. You may not know how to face your current challenge, but God does. Nothing catches Him off guard, and no problem is too big for Him. As you submit to Him, you’ll find that He gives you more than support. He gives you direction.
When David said that he would face Goliath, Saul tried to dissuade him:
You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth. – 1 Samuel 17:33
But David had been in mismatches before, and God had pulled him through each time:
When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them. – 1 Samuel 17:34-36
David wasn’t boasting of his own ability. He was boasting of God. That’s why he finished with this:
The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine. – 1 Samuel 17:37
What if you don’t have a lot of experience with God helping you through a crisis? Or what if the challenge that you face is very different from anything you’ve faced before?
You can draw on more than your own experiences with God. The Bible is full of stories of people who relied on God—for strength, for inspiration, for direction, for everything. Find those stories, and read them. After all, as Paul wrote:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Meditate on the times that God has helped you, and others, overcome challenges. He’ll give you everything you need to get through this rough patch.
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Relying on God’s Creative Spirit Gives You the Upper Hand
During David’s time, warfare was conducted with three divisions of arms:
- Cavalry, consisting of soldiers on horses or chariots
- Infantry, men with swords and armor
- Artillery, primarily archers
Goliath was an infantryman. He expected his challenge to be answered by an infantryman from the army of Israel. He knew that his foe wouldn’t be on horseback—that would not be a valid response to the challenge. And if Israel decided to send an archer, Goliath had a shield-bearer in front of him to block the arrows.
Saul had been persuaded by David’s confidence, and the king wanted to prepare the teen for hand-to-hand combat. So Saul dressed David as an infantryman: a tunic with a sword fastened over it, a coat of armor, and a bronze helmet.
David took off the heavy clothing items, complaining that he was “not used to them.” But there was a more important reason why David didn’t want to dress as an infantryman: he wasn’t going to fight as one. He wasn’t going to engage in hand-to-hand combat.
David needed to take an innovative approach to the battle, one that matched—to borrow a line from a Liam Neeson film—his “particular set of skills”. So David turned to God, and God’s creative Spirit told David what to do: use your sling.
David faced Goliath dressed not as a soldier but as a shepherd: with a staff and a shepherd’s bag. Goliath could see no weapon other than the staff, which really wasn’t a weapon at all. “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” growled the giant.
As the Philistine lumbered toward him, the quick and agile David moved into a position away from the shield-bearer. Grabbing a stone from his bag, David put it into his sling and slung it at Goliath. It sank into the giant’s forehead, just below his helmet, and the force of the blow knocked him out. David grabbed the Philistine’s sword and finished the job.
As you get ready to face your Goliath, don’t just pray about it. Trust in God. Get direction from Him, remembering how He has helped you and others in the past. And let His Spirit lead you to a creative solution that might not be apparent at first glance.
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