Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 20.1-4, 8
1 When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the LORD your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. 3 He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. 4 For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”
8 Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.”
Reflection: Faith Beyond Fear
By Marisa Jenkins
The Israelites battled fear. In fact, this fear was so prevalent that, prior to going into battle, the officers were instructed to ask if anyone was afraid. Those in fear were to be sent home lest their fellow soldiers become fearful too, because fear is contagious.
But why should they feel afraid? God had proven his faithfulness to his people. He delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians as he told them to be still, their Lord would fight for them. (Exodus 14.13-14) Yet they began to look down at their circumstances instead of up, trusting in their Creator to fight for them. Instead of fearing what was in the battle, the Israelite soldiers needed to trust in God who sees beyond the battle.
It’s easy to point the finger at the fearful Israelites, but aren’t we the same way? When our circumstances crumble, we struggle to see God. In difficult situations, it’s easy to lose heart and give in to fear. Like Peter, how many times have we taken our eyes off of Christ and begun to look at the troubling circumstances surrounding us, only to begin to sink? (Matthew 14.30)
The Lord was going with the Israelites to fight against their enemies. God was calling his people to trust him and not be fainthearted or afraid. Faith looks beyond fear. This is trust, to look farther than our eyes can see.
Maybe we are not facing a physical battle against a foreign enemy but, as believers, we face many different battles each day. A loved one fighting cancer. The constant onslaught of chronic pain. A child wandering from the Lord. Fear wants to creep in. Fear wants us to take our eyes off of Jesus and place them on our own circumstances.
Just as the Israelites needed to trust God, just as Peter needed to focus his eyes on Jesus, we too must learn to trust. Without this trust, we will sink in fear.
But we don’t have to sink. We have a Heavenly Father who goes with us to fight against our enemies.(Deuteronomy 20.4) Faith chooses to trust God, knowing that he sees what we cannot. We also trust that, no matter what storms or enemies we face, God will be with us every step of the way.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
I will call upon God and the Lord will deliver me.
In the evening, in the morning, and at the noonday, I will complain and lament, and he will hear my voice.
He will bring me safely back…God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me. — Psalm 55.17-19
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.