Challenge the Impossible
Have you ever experienced a challenge so overwhelming that forward movement seemed impossible? Perhaps all of us have experienced such a force. Many of our global missionaries and national leaders also contend with seemingly impossible challenges.
Sometimes we make a move of confident faith to discover seemingly insurmountable obstacles before us. We experience fears and doubts of which others are not aware. We find ourselves fearful about the future. We war with self-value, the right decisions, success in our job, providing for our family, etc.
Then there are the earth-shaking warfares that drive us to examine what we truly believe about God; the bouts with incurable illness, the heartbreak and failure of our children, natural disasters that bring total devastation. Are we alone in the warfare of life or is there a God who is in control of our life and the lives around us in the world?
We really only need to experience real fear once to know that it matters whether or not there is a divine power outside of ourselves who can overcome any threat in our lives. God is never irrelevant.
I have always enjoyed lessons learned from the scripture passage in 1 Samuel chapter 17. It is one of the great narratives from the Old Testament.
Most of us know the background concerning the warfare between the Israelites and the Philistines. It was a long history of conflict – back and forth over land, power, resources. God had given the land to the people of Joseph when they left Egypt in search of the promised land. He had gone before them and driven out the great and strong nations before his people (Joshua 23:9). And now, many generations later, the Israelties had failed to obey the Lord’s directives completely and were still laboring to achieve that which had been supplied for them in the battle of Jericho.
The scene positions the two armies in the Valley of Elah on opposing hills with the valley between them. The two main characters of the narrative include a Philistine warrior named Goliath and an Israeli young shepherd named David.
Goliath, the champion among the Philistines, had risen to challenge a champion from the army of Israel to fight him to determine which peoples would serve the other in this standoff. He was a giant of a man in excess of nine feet and was covered in bronze armor with a bronze javelin, a spear, and a shield. Every day for forty days, twice a day, he had barraged the army of Israel with accusations and ridicule.
Amid this standoff, David was sent from his father Jesse to take supplies to the front lines of battle and check on the welfare of his three oldest siblings. David arrived about the time of day the army of Israel was assuming their battle position and in time for Goliath’s challenge. David heard the challenge and witnessed the Israelites response of retreat in great fear. After being advised to the rewards offered by King Saul to the warrior who would face the giant, and being accused by his oldest brother, David is taken to the king and volunteers to fight Goliath.
David’s encounter with King Saul is essential to challenging the impossible. Saul belittles David in comparing his limitations to the seeming overwhelming attributes of the Philistine warrior. Even as David recounts the supernatural means in which God has used him, Saul doubts his ability to overcome. In the absence of other willing warriors, Saul permits David to face the giant, offers a blessing for the Lord’s presence, and calls for him to be wardrobed in his own armor.
David had to appreciate the craftsmanship of the armor – it was certainly the most superior armor available, as it had been crafted to protect the King. It was probably the best the world could offer to him. But David realized that he could not be defined by Saul or by the things of Saul. He did not belong to Saul. He belonged to God. He could only trust in and be defined by the Lord.
Challengers to the impossibilities are not those of this world. We are in this world, but we cannot be of it. We cannot look to, nor hope in, the best the world has to offer. We must never submit ourselves to someone else’s armor – even when it may be the armor of a king. We must forever focus on the armor God has given us uniquely.
After ditching the king’s armor and picking up the armor of faith, David chose five stones. The two warriors who faced one another came from two towns at either end of the valley in which they stood – Goliath from Gath and David from Bethlehem.
Goliath spoke first with accusations and threats spoken to infuse fear and intimidation. David spoke last. His words were not focused on who he was or what he could do. Rather, David focused everyone that day on the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, and the Lord who would deliver the giant into his hand that all the earth would know that there is a God in Israel (1 Samuel 17:45, 46).
The stone was slung and found the target. The giant fell and the shepherd triumphed over him. Impossible? “Without faith, it is impossible to please God, for he who comes to God must believe that He is God, and a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). And Jesus said . . . “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NIV).
There are some details I had forgotten about this narrative.
I had forgotton that the Israelites and Philistines were in a standoff in the battle because of a seeming overwhelming impossibility. The giant of a warrior the Philistines were willing to put forth as their champion challenged a one-on-one duel with the victor taking all the spoils and the losers becoming servants. Among the Israelites, not one warrior was willing to face him as they were dismayed and terrified (v. 11).
In the moment of their terror, they had forgotten they were a mighty army. They were going through the motions of being an army. Every day they put on their armor. Every day they prepared the weapons. Every day they set the battle in array. But, when it came to defeating the giant – facing and challenging the impossibility – they would not fight.
Overwhelming circumstances are impossible until we are willing to face them down and see them for what they are. We must never give in to the negativity, the depression, the sadness that things will never change. Sometimes even as we attempt to stand in faith, we look more at the circumstance than the Lord of the circumstances. This is NOT the plan of the Lord. It is not the reason we have been allowed a front row positioning. We have been positioned to believe and make a difference in the outcome.
Why was David on the front line at that impass? Because God had positioned him there. God ordered the time, the placement, the arrival, the response, the challenge, even the attitude of David upon his arrival.
If God has positioned us to be on the front line, He will sustain us to challenge even the goliath challenges before us. He will lead us into the moment of faith for which he has brought us.
Why was David not afraid to challenge the giant? David had a different perspective because he was not looking in the flesh. He understood in the Spirit and he had a confidence that God was working for His people. David knew that he had a choice in the conflict. He did not trust only in what he could see with his eyes nor what he could feel or understand. He was filled with a faith in the unseen God who is forever faithful. He had the anointing to challenge when challenge seemed impossible.
But we cannot just write-off his brothers nor the Israelite army. I want to remind you this conflict, this challenge was not a one-time event. Goliath had come day after day for 40 days, taunting, humiliating. The repeated barrage of the enemy tracks, 40 days, day after day, to the wearing down of faith. You find a sense in your heart that this situation will never change. Each day becomes more difficult to stand before the onslaught. In the face of such repeated challenges, to overcome you will need a tenacity of faith that moves you into the capacity to get up. And getting up comes with righteousness. Not self-righteousness, but a defending of the faithfulness of God, “Everyone will know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear for the battle is the Lord’s and he will give you into our hands” (v. 47).
The benefits offered to becoming a national hero were amazing – wealth, the king’s daughter in marriage, exemption from taxes, etc., But there was one priority for David – the integrity concerning the name of the Lord and that He alone is glorified.
What obstacles did he face before he faced Goliath?
- His brothers presupposed his integrity and accused him of pride (v. 28). Trust is, there will always be those around you who will misinterpret and falsely judge your intentions.
- He was belittled by Saul as just a boy compared to a warrior (v. 33). There will always be those who will de-value you and determine that what you have to offer is not good enough, not smart enough, not good enough, not significant enough – Challenge on!
- He was armed with weapons he could not use (vs. 38, 39). There will always be those who want to dress you up to be something you are not – don’t allow it to dishearten you.
- When Goliath saw David and how handsome and young he was, the Bible says he despised him (v. 42). There will always be those who will despise your uniqueness, your good, your heart and passion – even desire to rob you of it. Never compromise who God had made you, and intends you, to be.
- God built David’s faith even before he faced Goliath (vs. 34-37). He had experienced the supernatural power of God when he faced the bear, the lion, and developed a living relationship of reality with God..
How does God prepare us for the battle? How does he prepare us to successsfully challenge the most impossible situations? Sometimes when we are hardly aware of it. A bear here, a lion there, and each time he is building our spiritual muscles and a tenacity of faith so when facing the impossible, we experience His strength being built up in us.
God had given David a perspective the others did not have. David KNEW God was there to deliver them. He didn’t need what others use. He needed only to allow God to use him uniquely.
The actual battle between David and Goliath turned out to be unequal, but not in the way Goliath or any of the onlookers expected. The conditions of warfare were stacked in David’s favor. How did David see the battle differently from everyone else? He remembered the Lord. The Israelite army could only see the giant – David knew the God of every circumstance and that he was the impossibility challenger!
I heard an unknown to me evangelist communicate years ago – he invested these words in my heart, “Sometimes I hear God saying: You’ve asked for me to make you normal. I’ve called you to be holy. Anyone can be normal – it takes a courageous one to be different.“
David came to the front lines of the warfare that day from Bethlehem, just twelve miles away. He didn’t come to be a national hero, but once he was there, David took the responsibility no one else would accept. It was just an ordinary day in an ordinary valley. But it changed David’s life forever.
In the global missions’ ministries of the Church of God of Prophecy, we know that many of our leaders and missionaries daily experience these same kinds of goliath challenges. In the following pages you will read of their front-line conquests and triumphs. Their dreams and ministry plans will unfold on the pages before you. You will be meeting some of our leaders for the first time. In these feature articles, you will have the privilege of experiencing their infectious faith and contagious passion for ministry in the nations.
October Mission Drive is here. Our semi-annual opportunity to directly invest in the global ministries within our fellowship has arrived. You have this moment to respond and participate in the support of the faith that has positioned our national leaders and missionaries along the front lines of the global spiritual warfare and their faithful willingness to challenge the impossible with the Gospel message in their nations and regions. I heartily encourage your willingness to use the armor given to you in which you can join them on the front line of our global ministries.
We so deeply appreciate each of our prayer partners, Harvest Partner churches, Helping Hand and One Child Fund donors, and the active Mission work teams who give faithfully as a part of their service to the Lord. God bless you as you prayerfully seek in order to supply.