In Exodus 14, we read how the people of Israel left slavery in Egypt and are about to cross the Red Sea on their way to the promised land. But God tells them to stop and camp on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea. Pharaoh chased after the Israelites with his entire army and understandably believed he had the Israelites right where he wanted them. The Israelites were trapped between deep water and iron chariots!
Then beginning in verse ten we read this: “When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: “Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians”? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’ 13 And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.’” One translation renders verse 14 like this: “The Lord will fight for you; you won’t even have to lift a finger.”
How, exactly, did the Lord fight for Israel? He parted the Red Sea, the Israelites walked through on dry ground while the pillar of cloud kept the Egyptians from pursuing Israel. When the Egyptians tried to follow, the waters returned and drowned Pharaoh’s entire army. The Lord fought for Israel – they didn’t have to lift a finger.
We see this theme several times in the Old Testament. Before the Israelites crossed into the promised land they were told in Deuteronomy 1:30, “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes …” And again in Deuteronomy 3:22 we read, “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” It’s obvious the Lord did all the fighting when you read how Gideon defeated the Midianites or Jonathan routed the Philistines.
These Old Testament stories accurately describe the central struggle of the Christian life. Do we really believe there is a God who will fight our battles for us, or do we believe we have to win these battles on our own?
It’s so tempting to look at the people and situations around you as problems you need to fix. Whether it’s with your spouse, your kids, your money, or at your job, it’s easy to feel like you have to make all the right moves, you have to say all the right things, you have to be on top of everything, and you must have the wisdom or everything will fall apart.
It’s just not true. While wisdom is great and Christians should seek it (see Proverbs 4:1-7), living as if everything is riding on your abilities and work will wear you out and break you down. You simply can’t keep all those plates spinning all the time.
Instead, remember that the Lord will fight for you. The battle of your life is not solving all these problems, but believing that God will.
You will at some point this week (if not already) be anxious about or angry at someone close to you or some relationship you have. You will start to panic about your job, your school, or your money. You’ll feel like you need to step in and fix everything.
How about instead spending time in the Bible and in prayer remembering that the battle is the Lord’s and he will fight for you?
Jesus puts it like this in John 14:1, “Trust in God; trust also in me.” Whatever it is, lay the concern at the feet of Jesus and say, “OK, Jesus, I’m scared of what’s going to happen here, but I know ultimately I can’t fix anything. I know if I rush in like I am now I’ll just make everything worse, because I feel too uneasy to really love and serve the people around me. I need you and I’m trying to trust you – help me. You must change this person, you must step in and resolve this problem, and you must fix me! Show me what to do and, just as importantly, what not to do. Help me to wait on you to win the battle for me.”
One of my favorite hymns puts it like this: “His love, in time past, forbids me to think he’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink: each sweet Ebenezer I have in review confirms His good pleasure to help me quite through.” No matter what the struggle, the Lord will fight for you; you need not even lift a finger.