God is Bigger
By John F. Howard, Jr
When my brothers and I were growing up, Veggie Tales was one of our favorite video series. Each episode of Veggie Tales included talking vegetables who taught children common Bible stories and basic Christian values. In one particular episode, which I think was the very first one titled “Where’s God When I’m S-Scared?” Junior Asparagus watches a scary movie before going to bed. After his parents took him to bed and turned off the lights, he began to see monsters and dark shadows in his bedroom and became frightened. The video cuts to Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato, who then started to teach Junior Asparagus that he didn’t need to be afraid because God is bigger than the boogie man. As the Veggies talk about the problem, they break out into a song called, “God is bigger than the boogie man”. I have never forgotten the chorus of the song which goes like this, “God is bigger than the boogie man. He’s bigger than Godzilla, or the monsters on TV. Oh, God is bigger than the boogie man. And He’s watching out for you and me.”
We all have times when we are scared of something. Some of us are scared of snakes and spiders. Some of us are scared of flying. Some of us are scared of trying new things, like new foods because what if it doesn’t taste good or going to new places because we’ve never been there and we don’t know what it’s like. Being scared, being afraid of something can sometimes paralyze us where we are. Fear is a real emotion that warns us of danger but too often we allow fear too much space in our lives, like being afraid of boogie men under the bed, monsters on tv, and Godzilla.
During the time that Moses was leading the people out of bondage, he sent representatives from each of the 12 tribes of Israel to explore the Promised Land. After 40 days they returned with some of the fruit of the land and this report: “They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit” (Numbers 13:27). So far, so good! But then the fear bomb drops! “But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along with the Jordan” (Numbers 13: 28-29).
Some of the men who went and viewed the land began to make excuses for why they couldn’t and shouldn’t go into the Promised Land. We can’t do this because people are more powerful than us. We can’t do this because the cities are fortified and too big. We can’t do this because we would be surrounded by our enemies and they are a lot stronger than we are. They kept on and on about the problems in the land so much so that the bad news was beginning to overshadow the good news about the land. All they could see was what they were afraid of.
Caleb took a bold stand and silenced the people. He proclaimed, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it” (Numbers 13: 30). He was the one who looked around in faith and said we can do this. Caleb has the right attitude because he was grounded in faith in the Almighty God. He had a different spirit about him than the other men. Caleb followed God wholeheartedly and was not going to cower in fear or back away with a lack of courage. He knew this was the right time and he knew they needed to act in obedience to God. But as we continue on, we find that negativity, gossip, and fear are a powerful combination. The rest of the men were consumed by fear of the giant people living in the land. They felt like grasshoppers in comparison. They became hysterical and tried to stop the mission (Numbers 13:31-33).
Finally, Joshua spoke up and said, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them” (Numbers 14:7-9).
In grief over the lack of faith of his friends, Joshua tore his clothes and pleaded with the people.
He knew that God was with them. Out of the 12 men who went to explore the land that God was promising to them, only the two of them, Joshua, and Caleb, had the faith to move ahead. To the others, it seemed impossible. Fear was the dominant emotion and negativity fed the fear. But the two young men knew that just because the majority seems to agree doesn’t mean that it’s true. What the Israelites had forgotten was that God is bigger than the problems we face.
Has there ever been a time in your life when you were scared to try something? Maybe you were thinking about going back to school, but you were scared because everyone was younger or more tech-savvy than you. Maybe you were offered a new job opportunity but were scared because you would have to move somewhere new and unfamiliar. Maybe you were feeling led to volunteer for something, but you were scared that you didn’t have anything to offer.
If God is leading us somewhere, we don’t have to be afraid. And in those times when we are afraid when the problems seem giant-sized and impossible and we are just feeling small, like grasshoppers compared to giants in the field. We have the opportunity to lean on God and to trust him. God is calling us and compelling us to something new and God will provide for us.
Maybe you are facing financial, health or other kinds of personal problems and you’re just frozen because you don’t know what to do. Friends let me tell you something, God is bigger than the problems we face.
You might be asking what happened to the Israelites. Well in a nutshell the rest of chapter 14 tells us that the Israelites decided not to go into the Promised Land. And because they had given in to fear they spent the next 40 years wandering around in the desert. They spent one year in the desert for every day they explored the Promised Land. And of the 12 that explored the Promised Land, only Joshua and Caleb got to go and live in it 40 years later. An entire generation of Israelites missed out on going into the Promised Land because they let their fear get the best of them. They didn’t trust in God. We must remember, God is bigger than the problems we face.
Let’s not miss out on what God may be doing in our lives and our midst because we can’t see what the future holds. Let’s not let fear stop us from where God is leading us. Let’s not let our fear cause us to wander around in the wilderness. We may have problems, but we have a God who understands our problems and is bigger than all the problems we face all put together!
Friends the good news for us today is that God is bigger than the problems we face. And we can take comfort knowing that no matter what we face in life God is with us. As we continue to live in the face of the invisible enemy of COVID-19 and the uncertainty it brings in all our lives today. We can’t let fear rob us of the joy of living. It cannot steal our joy and peace with God. We do not need to fear our position with God because no matter what you’re facing today, God is bigger than the problems we face. “God is bigger than the boogie man. And He’s watching out for you and me.”
Rev. John F. Howard, Jr is the Pastor at Pine Grove United Methodist Church and Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Spruce Pine, NC. He graduated from Pfeiffer University with a B.A in Christian Education and earned his M. Div. degree at Duke Divinity School. He also has an M.A in Leadership from Asbury Theological Seminary.
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