Have you ever felt uncertain when faced with a life challenge? Too big. Too painful. Impossible. Moses may have felt like this. At God’s command, he led God’s people out of Egyptian slavery only to stare into the looming face of death anyway. Wasn’t slavery better than death? The Israelite multitude mocked and panicked beside him. The Egyptian army advanced behind them to slaughter. The sea before them beckoned them come drown. Trapped.
God’s Word? Fear not. Stand firm. Move forward. In the power of God, Moses placed his stick in the water and told God’s people to advance – not after the waters parted, but before. They were asked to advance forward in faith before the waters moved back to deliver.
Fear not. Stand firm. Move forward. This repeating triad echoes in the words of Paul when he insists that the same resolve be made by the fledgling Philippian church. Persecution pressed in from outside persecution from both the Jewish community they left and the Roman empire who ruled. Distress lurked within the church in disunity, jealousy, and gospel distortion. They were in unprecedented territory of suffering, fear and confusion. Trapped. Yet in a rhythmic-style march, Paul repeatedly encourages the Philippian church to stand firm and move forward in the truth of Jesus and His Word – not in the absence of confusion, but in the presence of it. Not in the presence of solutions, but in their absence. How can the fearful unknown be met with such confident resolve? God’s Word remains as consistent as He is.
Do you find yourself trapped in circumstances that loom too large to be defeated by your own effort, insight, or capability? Do you feel overwhelmed, scared, trapped? Then rejoice! You have been qualified by Jesus to stand in the strength and truth of His character – not just when your present circumstances resolve, but in the midst of their unresolved messiness. We don’t fear our circumstances because we have holy fear for Him. In Jesus, we can place our stick of faith into the miry confusion that engulfs us. Our confidence is in the One who has gone before us, is present in the ugliest, scariest mess, yet still calls us forward to advance in His uncompromised truth. As we respond in faith to stand in Him, it is then that He has promised to advance through us.