This week, we talked a lot about fear and trust. And the difference between the two. And how those differences were walked out in the lives of two guys named Caleb and Joshua. Caleb and Joshua were guys who heard and trusted God, despite what was going on around and even inside of them.
As 5th and 6th graders, things are changing a lot for you. You are beginning to see more and feel much more than you ever have before. Something that didn’t bother you in second grade starts to bother you now. You worry about what people think—and especially, what they think about you. It happens to all of us.
Guys, for you, it’s easy to see and feel all of these things and start to shut down. You don’t want to feel them, so you do your best not to. The problem is that is just doesn’t work—at least for long. The feelings surface one way or another…and often, when you’re trying to shut them down, the main way they surface is through anger. Girls, for you, you start to feel more inside—and you go even deeper down with those feelings. As a result, you get insecure and often angrier, too—but your anger can be directed more at yourself than others.
Riley, from the movie Inside Out, was much the same. She was seeing and feeling so much during the movie. And her parents, as much as they loved her, wanted her to keep being their “happy little girl.” Your parents may want the same thing. It’s not that they want you to fake it or act perfectly—they just don’t want you to be sad or hurt. But, you still are, at times. And you know it now more than you ever have before.
That’s where Caleb and Joshua come in from the book of Numbers in the Bible. They were sent to the promised land to scout it out with ten other spies. Ten of the spies came back and talked about the “giants” that were there. They didn’t believe they could take the land and referred to themselves as grasshoppers. In other words, they felt afraid and insecure in light of their circumstances. But, Caleb and Joshua were different. In Numbers 14:24, Caleb is credited as having a “different spirit.” They believed they could do it. Even more, they trusted that God was with them and He could do it.
You’re in a similar place. With all of the feelings going on inside of you, you can start to feel like a grasshopper, too, surrounded by giants. In those times, you can either feed fear or feed trust. Caleb and Joshua saw the exact same things as the other spies, but they fed trust. How? They remembered what God had said.
That’s what we get to do for each other. We feed trust in each other when we’re encouraging…when we practice reminding each other of God’s promises.
Jacob, in Genesis 32, wrestles with God until daybreak—until God blessed him. We have the same opportunity. When things are hard, we can practice and wrestle with God until He blesses us, or we can wrestle and hide.
Sometimes, we think we’re supposed to be happy all the time. That is not what God has promised. But he has promised us that he will be with us. There will be a day when we will be—when there will be no more tears. But, for now, we can hold on to God and wait. We can wait for his blessing as we wrestle with God’s truth. We can hide our feelings or we can learn to wrestle.
When we hide our feelings is when we get angry. Anger is the quickest and easiest feeling to have, whether it’s at ourselves or someone else. In those moments, we can hold on to self-talk, which just creates more anger, or we can hold on to God and His word. When we hold on to Him, we’re like Jacob saying that we need Him. If we stay angry, we have to keep running from our feelings to try to keep the anger pressed down. If we wrestle, we get God’s blessing—maybe not in our timing or in the way we expect, but He blesses us. And blessing means more than being happy. It means having joy. When you’re blessed, you end up blessing other people. It turns our perspective upside down and helps us see things differently…much like Jesus described when He invited His friends onto a hillside and said these words,
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought. You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for. You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family. You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” Matthew 5:3-12
Jesus says to you—in the midst of all that you’re seeing and feeling, “I want you to know a joy deep inside—even when things are hard…even when you feel left out…even as you’re growing up. I’m with you. Hold on to me and I will bless you.”