“All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” NIV
I’m not a big fan of conflict.
I was never very good at sports, I was always the last kid picked in softball, I didn’t sign up for the debate team, I didn’t become a litigator and I have no interest in ever attending a boxing match.
But, conflict is a fact of life. We don’t all see things the same way, and, when two people fiercely hold conflicting points of view, sometimes a fight is inevitable. There are winners and there are losers and these verses are a reminder of that.
I have a dear friend whose young son joined a T-ball team. As she patiently explained the rules and the concepts to me, she ended with a description of the end of each game. Each child on both teams gets rewarded for having shown up and participated. I was really surprised by that … I remember telling her that everyone doesn’t always win in life, and that teaching kids that “everybody wins” seemed counterintuitive to me. Perhaps, a bit of my bitterness at having so often been the loser was showing through. I didn’t ever get a ribbon (well, once in third grade I got a fourth place ribbon in the long jump … but only four kids entered the competition).
At first glance, this passage is a confirmation of that age-old winners/losers truth. But, these verse also contain a powerful reminder not to worry. Verse 13 says, “Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I’m not letting go. I’m telling you, ‘Don’t panic. I’m right here to help you.'” MSG
When I looked up “panic” on Dictionary.com, I found, “a sudden overwhelming fear, with or without cause, that produces hysterical or irrational behavior, and that often spreads quickly through a group of persons or animals.”
So, people are going to oppose us here. But, God has a plan.
Things will be hard here. But, we shouldn’t panic. God’s team is going to win.
The beautiful thing about God’s team is that it’s not one that you have to wait to be picked for. You don’t have to be the fastest runner, or the one who can hit the ball the farthest, or even the best at constructing an argument. You must simply be willing to accept God’s gift of his son, and that’s it … you get a jersey and ultimately, a championship ring. You DO get rewarded for having shown up and participated.
I will have to think about that today.