By R. W. McAlister
After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, the good news for the Israelites was that they were going to be able to live in nice, furnished houses they didn’t build, drink from wells they didn’t dig, eat from vineyards and olive trees they didn’t plant, and enjoy numerous other blessings they didn’t deserve (Deut. 6:10-11). The bad news was that in order to enjoy all of these blessings – to live in this land which flowed with milk and honey, they had to defeat the Anakim.
Who were the Anakim? They were a tribe inhabiting the land of Palestine in the south near Hebron. The Bible says they were people of large stature and therefore produced fear among their enemies (Numbers 13:33; Deut. 2:10-11). The key for God’s people in any age to overcome the “giants” they face in life is simply to lean on Him. It was the very character and power of God that would allow them to be victorious.
How do we handle it when our spouse leaves this world before we do? How do we handle it when we outlive a son or daughter, or someone we love as though they were ours? How do we cope when a beloved parent dies? How do we cope when a spouse suddenly decides one day, “I don’t love you any more?” What do we do when a son or daughter tells us, “I’m choosing to live an alternative lifestyle?” How do we handle it when we’re trying to do what’s right and our parents or other family turns their backs on us? What do we do when our boss comes and tells us we’re fired?
The answer to all of these questions is the same - we lean upon God for support.
We need to lean upon the Lord when we weep. When hardships befall us, we can become angry and turn to the world, or we can turn to God. When people turn to the world, they turn to drinking or drugs, or to an immoral lifestyle. Every bad situation in life that we encounter can either cause us to become better, or bitter. We can become stronger in the faith, or we can become weaker. We can draw closer to God, or we can drift further from Him. The choice is ours, and we choose to either lean upon God, or lean upon the world.
God promised Joshua that as the people entered the Promised Land, He would be with them. In Joshua 1:9, He reminded them that they didn’t have to be afraid. That passage reads, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” Joshua, along with Caleb, believed from the beginning that the people of God could defeat the giants, even when others had doubted and had forgotten all that God had done for them.
Is it possible that there are those of us today who have developed spiritual amnesia? Have we forgotten what God has done for us? Have we forgotten to lean on Him? Is it possible that we too have forgotten that we were under bondage to a taskmaster – that we were slaves and Satan was ruling over us and God sent us His Son that through His shed blood, we might be lifted up and made God’s children? Have we forgotten that? We mustn’t forget what God has done for us! We must also never forget that He’s still there for us. Lean upon Him when you weep.
I Peter 5:7 teaches us to “cast all our cares upon Him for He cares for us.” Lean on Him. In Matthew 5:4, Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” We must lean upon Him when we weep. In John chapter 11, the shortest verse in the Bible tells us that Jesus wept when He realized that His friend Lazarus had died, and verse 36 tells us the Jews said, “Behold how He loved him.” A few verses later, in John 11:41 Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.” Jesus knew that He could lean upon His father, so whatever you’re going through today, whatever causes you to weep, cast your cares upon Him because He cares about you!
- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/