When the Israelites first reached the Promised Land, they feared the Canaanites and refused to trust in God. Many of them desired to return to Egypt. Because of their lack of faith, they had to wander the wilderness for another forty years. At the end of that time, before Israel finally entered the Promise Land, Moses commissioned Israel to have faith in God and to follow Him.
“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8.
Historically, the tribes of Israel lost faith in God countless times, choosing idolatry instead. When they turned away from Him, God gave them into the hands of their enemies. However, He never totally forsook them, and it was often the faith of individuals that brought Israel back to their King.
David went up against the Philistine giant Goliath with nothing more than a sling and few smooth stones. While many considered him foolish, David had faith that the Lord would deliver the Philistines into Israel’s hand. Had he not fought the giant, the Philistines would have conquered Israel. On that day, God helped David defeat Goliath.
Gideon put his faith in God instead of the size of his army. If he had put his faith in the number of his force, the Midianites would have defeated Gideon. He went out against the Midianites, trusting in God’s sovereignty, and God gave them into his hand. All Israel knew God, not strength in numbers, had delivered them.
Even when prayer to the Lord was outlawed in Babylon, still Daniel prayed. He was thrown into a den of lions but continued to trust God’s sovereignty, and God shut the mouths of the lions. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to an idol. Even unto death, they stood fast in their belief that God’s will would be done, and the Lord did not let the fiery furnace consume them.
Esther knew approaching her husband, the king of Persia, would mean certain death. However, had she remained silent, the Jews would have been a part of a genocide. Esther knew God had a plan for her and her people. When she approached the king, God granted her favor in the eyes of King Xerxes.
When the disciples were beaten, persecuted, tortured, imprisoned, and martyred for spreading the gospel, they grew bolder, and the Word continued to spread. Not all of them lived, but through their faith in God, thousands were brought to Christianity. Today, around 2.3 billion of the 7.3 billion people in the world profess Christianity, making Christianity the largest religious group on earth. That started with 120 believers, hiding in the upper room of a building in Jerusalem. Today, throughout the world, Christians struggle with anything ranging from busy schedules to persecution, but thankfully, God is not limited by our circumstances.
As the class of 2018 prepares for graduation, college, and careers, they will face their own troubles. They’ll fight seemingly impossible battles. They will resist temptations. They will choose between silence and action, and they will face persecution for their faith. However, even through their mistakes, discouragements, and trials, God will not only walk by their side, but He will also go before them and lead them to victory over whatever troubles the future might hold. Seniors, you all are headed into a new season of life that, while exciting, may also appear daunting. But continue to place your faith in God and in His Word, because He has gone before you. He holds you in the palm of His righteous right hand. If you follow Him, you will not be shaken.
“You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet.
You are my sword and shield.
Though troubles linger still,
Whom shall I fear?
I know who goes before me;
I know who stands behind.
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.
The one who reigns forever,
He is a friend of mine.
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side.”
– Chris Tomlin