Today’s reading: 1 Chronicles 18-21.
How do you handle stress? For me, a good walk or some work in the garden does the job. For others, the distraction of a TV show, a shower, or something to eat may calm them. All of us face situations that can cause anxiety. Some have even had to face the extreme stress of war with its threats of death, injury, or post traumatic stress syndrome.
David’s general, Joab, found himself in a dangerous battle situation with the enemy lined up before him and behind him. His reaction can teach us about handling the stresses all of us encounter.
Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother, and they were deployed against the Ammonites. Joab said, “If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to rescue me; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will rescue you. Be strong and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The LORD will do what is good in his sight.” 1 Chronicles 19:10-13
I’m not trying to get you to adopt Joab’s military tactics; I want you to look at the attitude that allowed him to think and fight with a cool head. “The LORD will do what is good is in his sight.” In other words, God knows what he’s doing. He has my best interest at heart. I can trust him. He will do what is best for me. Therefore, I will not be afraid. Though circumstances threaten me, God is greater than the circumstances of my life.
The Bible encourages us repeatedly to put our trust in God. Psalm 23 reminds us that we should not be afraid, even in the shadow of death, because God is with us. Psalm 91 uses the imagery of warfare to exhort us to trust God even in the fiercest battles. Joshua knew that he could be strong and courageous because the LORD was with him wherever he went. Job knew that he would trust God even if God took his life. Jesus told us not to fear the tribulations of this world, for he had overcome the world. Paul said, don’t worry, but bring your concerns to God in prayer.
Pressures that squeeze us are unavoidable, but God’s care for us is the greater spiritual reality that can free us from anxiety. When we feel frozen by fear, we need to do a spiritual reality check. Yes, my circumstances are frightening, but the LORD will do what is good.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-2
Image by Romain on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0