When We Can Do Nothing

“When Jabin king of Hazor heard of this, he sent word to Jacob king of Madon, to the kings of Shimron and Akshaph, and to the northern kings who were in the mountains, in the Arabah south of Kinnereth, in the western foothills and in Naphoth Dor on the west; to the Canaanites in the east and west; to the Amorites, Hittities, Perezzites and Jebusites in the hill country; and to the Hivites below Hermon in the region of Mizpah. They came out with all their troops and a large number of horses and chariots- a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. All these kings joined forces and made camp together at the Waters of Merom to fight against Israel. The Lord said to Joshua, ‘Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them, slain, over to Israel.'” ~ Joshua 11:1-6

Sometimes we face “a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore.” Whatever the tangible difficulty, we feel despair, fear, and hopelessness. We realize the scale and strength of the circumstance surrounding us and how small and powerless we are to fight it. But – “Do not be afraid of them, because by this time tomorrow I will hand all of them… over to Israel.”

I remember a time in my late twenties so clearly. I had two very small children, my husband and I were both educators living in an expensive city and God had called me to quit my job to stay home with my babies. It had taken me five years to listen to this call and I was terrified. I’d had a job since I was fifteen. I didn’t know how we would pay all of our bills on my husband’s salary. It was during the recession and I knew people meg-nielson-121431praying and praying for jobs – and here I was – leaving mine.

I had experienced night terrors – waking up in the middle of the night in a panic – on and off since I was a kid. As an adult they were rare, but once I resigned in March they began again. Every night, within an hour of falling asleep I would wake up, my heart pounding, adrenaline flooding my body. Sometimes I wouldn’t fully wake up until I was in another room. I woke up feeling a need to flee, though not from anything tangible. After a week of this, I was exhausted. I still had to go to work every day until summer; I still had two young children to care for. I started to fear going to sleep, even though I was desperately tired. I questioned whether or not I truly heard from God about leaving my job. After losing enough sleep, I started feeling a general anxiousness all the time. I didn’t yet understand how so often when we step into God’s will, we face opposition from the enemy. As I finally trusted God enough to take a risk and let go – just a little – on my grip of self-control, Satan wanted me to question myself.

My practical, controlling-self tried all sorts of things to stop the night terrors. Long walks and yoga before bed, prayer, meditating on scriptures. But still they kept going, for weeks and weeks. Finally, one weekend morning I sat on the floor of the bathroom in our little house and told God – I can’t do anything. I’m so tired, so worried about life in general and I don’t really know if You are going to do anything about it, but I realize I can’t fix this. If I’m going to get better, it has to be You. I can do nothing.

 I immediately felt calm, reassured. It was so strong and sudden that I even looked around, expecting to see some tangible cause of my relief. I thanked God and went about my day. I didn’t have a night terror again for probably a year.

This was a pivotal moment in my faith. Without truly realizing it, I had a very works-based view of God’s provision. If I believed enough, if I had enough faith, then would He act. He began to show me I could bring the tiniest mustard seed, the smallest army, up against a much stronger enemy and He could and would still deliver me.

Do not be afraid! It is always God’s battle. In our fears, in our marriages and relationships, in our children, in our work, in everything – it is God’s battle. Give it over to Him so He can fight it. The impossible before us, the great armies camped together, are not able to stand again the Almighty God.


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