There are lots of disasters to look at right now. From hurricanes and wildfires to ethnic cleansing and nuclear testing, it seems as if the earth herself is groaning.
- California is on fire.
- Oregon is on fire.
- Washington is on fire.
- British Columbia is on fire.
- Alberta is on fire.
- Montana is on fire.
- Nova Scotia is on fire.
- Greece is on fire.
- Brazil is on fire.
- Portugal is on fire.
- Algeria is on fire.
- Tunisia is on fire.
- Greenland is on fire.
- The Sakha Republic of Russia is on fire.
- Siberia is on fire.
- Texas is still largely under water and in recovery.
- India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, experience record monsoons and massive death toll.
- Sierra Leone and Niger experience massive floods, mudslides, and deaths in the thousands.
- Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia are crushed in the death grip of a triple digit heat wave, dubbed Lucifer.
- Southern California continues to swelter under triple digit heat that shows no sign of letting up.
- In usually chilly August, the city of San Francisco shatters all-time record at 106 degrees, while it reaches 115 degrees south of the city. Northern California continues to bake in the triple digits.
- Yellowstone volcano is hit with earthquake swarm of over 2,300 tremors since June, recording a 4.4 quake on June 15, 2017 and 3.3 shaker on August 21, 2017.
- 5.3 earthquake rumbles through Idaho
- Japan earthquake 6.1 possible tsunami.
- Mexico earthquake 8.2 imminent tsunami. Another Mexico City earthquake hits the Richter scale at 7.2. Beach lines in Mexico are receded at least 50+ meters.
- Recovery still continues from Hurricanes Harvey & Irma while Jose, Lee and Maria are barreling around the Atlantic with 8 more potential forming.
- Puerto Rico is largely destroyed.
- We saw an X10 C.M.E solar flare. The highest recorded solar flare ever.
- We see locusts invading southern Russialike some sort of Egyptian plague.
- Ethnic cleansing continues in Myanmar.
- And, last but not least, North Korea continues nuclear testing that has already caused earthquakes and US Defense is rallying a response.
While some of us would prefer to close our eyes and ears, others declare the end of the world is near. I saw just yesterday where some religious yahoo started a 49 day countdown to the apocalypse. Still, it’s not hard to understand each of these perspectives. We are bombarded with news, real and fake. Morning and night.
The first thing most of us do in the morning is pick up our phones; it’s also the last thing we do before we go to bed. Statistics tell us that the average person checks their phone 115 times a day. Whether it’s CNN or Fox News, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook – we are a hyper-informed society. Fight or flight are natural human reactions to this information. Refusal to acknowledge anything that doesn’t impact us directly is a flight response; while, doomsday prepping is a fight response. Neither are totally wrong, but it’s important to acknowledge both as natural (along with responses that fall in the in between). If you’ve found yourself overwhelmed with everything going on – so much so that you’re starting to store unperishables, it’s ok; you aren’t alone. If you’ve found yourself so consumed by empathy and hurt, that you’ve had to shut down and stop watching, it’s ok; you aren’t alone.
Here’s the thing though; we are so bombarded with noise, that we hear no voice with clarity. Therefore, we fall into confusion and worry ourselves sick – or – are paralyzed. This isn’t a new problem with the human condition. Some 2,000 years ago we suffered the same paralysis.
Many of us have heard or read the David and Goliath story in the Bible. We typically see David as a huge underdog who overcomes so much to achieve a victory for his people. We tend to overlook the “hearing” part of the story. In the Bible, 1 Samuel 17 lays it out:
“The Philistines drew up their troops for battle. They deployed them at Socoh in Judah, and set up camp between Socoh and Azekah at Ephes Dammim. Saul and the Israelites came together, camped at Oak Valley, and spread out their troops in battle readiness for the Philistines. The Philistines were on one hill, the Israelites on the opposing hill, with the valley between them.
A giant nearly ten feet tall stepped out from the Philistine line into the open, Goliath from Gath. He had a bronze helmet on his head and was dressed in armor—126 pounds of it! He wore bronze shin guards and carried a bronze sword. His spear was like a fence rail—the spear tip alone weighed over fifteen pounds. His shield bearer walked ahead of him.
Goliath stood there and called out to the Israelite troops, “Why bother using your whole army? Am I not Philistine enough for you? And you’re all committed to Saul, aren’t you? So pick your best fighter and pit him against me. If he gets the upper hand and kills me, the Philistines will all become your slaves. But if I get the upper hand and kill him, you’ll all become our slaves and serve us. I challenge the troops of Israel this day. Give me a man. Let us fight it out together!”
1 Samuel 17:1-10 MSG
The Bible tells is that For 40 days and 40 nights, this 10 foot tall – imposing giant – wearing over 100 lbs of glistening armor, stood in front of the Israelites shouting and imtimidating the army. He taunted them relentlessly. There sat the Israelite army, scared and afraid. Verse 11 tells us that every morning and every night they heard Goliath challenge them, “…they were terrified and lost all hope.” (Emphasis mine)
I wonder what the giant in your life looks like, friend? What is shouting at you relentlessly? What has you terrified and losing hope? There are so many things screaming at us every day. Who are we choosing to hear? Do we pick up our phone or watch the news in the morning and in the evening and become paralyzed?
David comes on the scene. He is the youngest son in a family of warriors, a shepherd who watches over a few sheep. But, God had promised him something big. David was in the waiting. No one believed in him or saw him doing things in private that made him ready. But, he was ready. Running to the front lines of the war to deliver food to his brothers and other soldiers.
“David left his bundles of food in the care of a sentry, ran to the troops who were deployed, and greeted his brothers. While they were talking together, the Philistine champion, Goliath of Gath, stepped out from the front lines of the Philistines, and gave his usual challenge. David heard him.”
1 Samuel 17:22, 23 MSG (emphasis mine)
David heard the Goliath’s taunting just like the Israelite army had heard it day in and day out for 40 days and 40 nights. Yet, while the army sat cowering and frightened, David told the king that he would fight. The story goes on to tell us that everyone doubted David, his older brother, the king, and even the giant laughed at him. David refused to hear it. Instead, he stood firm on the promise that God had made him. Even in the waiting, God had made him strong. He had killed a bear and a lion in the quiet, in the waiting, in the training moments to prepare him for this very moment. No one else had seen it, except God, but it allowed David to move forward in boldness and courage.
David heard the voice of God over the voices of the “news,” over the voices of the people who didn’t believe in him, over the entire Israelite army, over the voice of the giant that stood in front of him.
“David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of GOD -of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day GOD is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that GOD doesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to GOD —he’s handing you to us on a platter!””
1 Samuel 17:45-47 MSG
Spoiler alert: he did exactly what he said he would do. Because, David didn’t fight FOR victory, but FROM a place of victory. Because David didn’t listen to the negative voices; he tuned them out and heard the promise of God above all else. Sweet friend, who are you listening to? Who are you tuning into? You and I, like David, are children of the King, the one and only God, the Creator of the planet, and the pursuer of our hearts. No matter what your past is, or who told you that you aren’t enough, you are MORE than enough. You’re not a product of this world or a victim to time; you are a product of eternity. God plucked you out of eternity for this very moment. We have to be able to recognize the voice of our Father, and in order to do that, we have to tune out everything else and really KNOW His voice. We have to rely on Him, and not our own ability.
There will be battles. God does not promise us that life will be easy; He promises us that the battle belongs to him. Romans 10:14 tells us: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? (ESV) We can hear from God today, just like David did by reading the Bible, by praying His Word, by being still and talking to Him as if He were here, because He is. The enemy doesn’t fight those who aren’t doing things, those who aren’t valuable. This is a battle; it’s a battle for your faith. Faith looks a lot like risk. Take the step.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”
Isaiah 40:8 NIV
God, we know Your Word will never fail us. Remind us when we feel overwhelmed, to pick up the Bible, to listen to worship music, to shout and sing to You. You will overcome. You are the God of Angel Armies and this battle does not belong to me. I am weak, but in my weakness You are strong. We know You want good things for Your kids. Help us to hear Your voice clearly and then be obedient. Thank You for everything. We love You. We honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen