I’ve been thinking of the lyrics of Be Magnified recently. The song begins with the lines: “I have made You too small in my eyes, o Lord, forgive me. I have believed in a lie, that You were unable to help me. But now, o Lord, I see my wrong”. I find those words convicting because it compels me to ask: “how big is your God?” This is a question we may be able to ignore when things are going well. But, it’s an unavoidable question if life isn’t going to plan. We may attempt to avoid this question when confronted with a challenge. But our actions, if we claim to believe in God, will bear testament to what we genuinely believe about God.
I was listening to a podcast recently where a guest was describing three types of beliefs people exhibit. He said the first was our public belief; what we tell others we believe. Sometimes, this is motivated by our desire to belong, and sometimes it’s to take a stand. Then, there’s what we think we believe. These are the things we tell ourselves when we’re alone. These are our private beliefs. And lastly, we have core beliefs. These are the things we actually believe. Often, these three don’t align for many of us, and we may not even realise they don’t align until we face a trial. The guest explained that while we may violate our public and private beliefs under duress, we never violate our core beliefs. In other words, when the chips are down, our response will generally be dictated by our core beliefs. How true is this when we encounter adversity?
The psalmist tells us: “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” [Psalm 46:1]. An oft-quoted Bible verse, but how often is God the first person you turn to when you’re in trouble? Usually, we call the people we think can help us first and then maybe pray. I do this too, which is why Be Magnified resonates so much with me. It compels me to question how many of my beliefs are genuine core beliefs. What does it say about my core beliefs if I turn to others before God? Especially if I claim that God is all-powerful and loves me. Am I convinced that He will hear and help me when I cry out to Him in my distress [Psalm 17:6]? Am I confident He’s willing and able to do exceedingly more abundantly than I could ever ask or think [Ephesians 3:20]? Are my actions consistent with my claims? What exactly do I believe about God?
The Bible tells the story of a shepherd boy, who had to confront an impossible situation, an actual giant [1 Samuel 17]. Many of us have encountered similar experiences. Like the Hebrew soldiers facing Goliath, we shrink at the terrifying sight of the giant before us. Let’s assume David was an average height teenage boy, so maybe 1.7 metres tall. He had no battlefield experience and wasn’t even allowed to enlist for his country. Some historians put Goliath at over 3 metres tall, and the Bible adds that he was also a battle-harden warrior. In human terms, this is a no-contest. You could even label putting David on the same battlefield as Goliath cruelty. However, just one component, faith in God, completely changes the dynamics of an apparently impossible situation.
Before he faced Goliath, David knew that the giant was a conquered foe because his core belief was that his God was superior in every way to Goliath [1 Samuel 17:36]. That knowledge furnished his confidence as he went into battle. In truth, it wouldn’t have mattered whether David took a slingshot, a sword or indeed, a stick into the fight because his victory was by faith [Hebrews 11:32-34]. What did David believe about God that informed his decision to fight Goliath? Has God changed in nature or character since the time of David? The Bible delivers an unequivocal ‘no’ to that question [Hebrews 13:8]. Are seemingly insurmountable situations a part of life on this planet? My experience provides a resounding ‘yes’ to that question. The options are simple: if I face Goliath without the backing of a superior agency, I’m heading for defeat. But if I place my faith in God alone as I take on my giants, my victory is guaranteed [1 John 5:4-5].
Sadly, we often approach God with our contingency plan in place, hedging our bets just in case He disappoints us. Such doubt adversely impacts us [James 1:6]. Moreover, God is no one’s plan B. He doesn’t share His glory [Isaiah 42:8]. So, there are some victories we won’t experience until we change how we see God. That change will require an examination of our core beliefs. However, while we may have to admit that we don’t truly believe some of our claims, let’s remember that possessing mountain-moving faith is possible for every child of God. David wasn’t born with giant-slaying faith. He cultivated his faith through experiences and intimacy with God [1 Samuel 17:32-35]. So, his boastful claims to Saul and Goliath hinged on his revelation of his God.
A. W. Tozer once said: “What comes into our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us”. That is certainly true in our moments of adversity. However, like David, we can spend the preceding season intentionally building our relationship with Jesus and getting to know who He is [Jude 1:20]. Doing so will ensure that we face adversity with unshakable confidence in the God who has promised never to leave or forsake us [Hebrews 13:5] instead of focusing on the seemingly impossible situation before us. Consequently, our response will be rooted in the revelation that with Jesus, we’re unbeatable.