We are in a crisis...a global crisis. COVID-19 has shaken the entire world. Never in our lifetime have we experienced anything like this. It seem surreal. It's like we're living in one of those Bible stories you read but never thought you'd experience in real life. Everything seems bad. Each day, there's an increasing number of people confirmed with the virus (and we won't hit the peak until May...at the earliest). People are dying. People are losing their jobs. People are scared. These are uncertain times and many people are experiencing fear, anxiety, confusion, helplessness, and hopelessness.
This pandemic brings back memories of my two cancer experiences. I was scared to death. I was scared of death. However, I realized my cancer diagnosis didn't mean I was going to be defeated. Just like this coronavirus pandemic doesn't mean we (as global citizens) will be defeated. I want to share with you and excerpt from my book, The Beautiful Journey: Finding Purpose Through Cancer. My hope is that the words will encourage you as we're navigating uncharted territory.
I had been going through the motions, living somewhat in a state of shock. I was tired of cancer already. It sucked! Did I say I was tired of cancer already? This was getting old and the difficult part was that the major battle hadn’t even begun. When I think back to this time, I must admit I was a little scared. Defeating cancer wasn’t going to be easy. It was not going to be a quick, one-two combo punch; it was going to take many rounds to get that knockout.
When people hear the word cancer, they automatically think of suffering, dying and/or death. That little six-letter word can hold a lot of power. In order to defeat it, I couldn’t give cancer any power over my life. I was tired of hearing the word cancer and especially tired of it being in my body. I looked forward to the days of being cancer-free again, but first I had to confront and defeat the giant in my life — cancer.
I was reminded of the story of David and Goliath. Just like David, we all will face “giants” in our lives. We all will have “giant” problems and seemingly impossible situations we will have to go up against. Giants are anything that can distract us from focusing on God. There’s the giant called depression. The giant called worry. The giant called fear. The giant called doubt. There’s even a giant called payment due, which you may face when you don’t have enough money to pay your bills. I could go on and on listing the many “giants” that exist, but you get the point.
In the story, there are many lessons to be learned about facing giants. I’m not a pastor, so I’m not going to give a full sermon on the text. However, I will touch briefly on some of the points that stood out for me in the story.
David lets us know he was very disappointed with the Israelites because they were too afraid to stand up against Goliath, even though he defied the army of God. He became fed up and couldn’t take the insults and mockery anymore. Having been overlooked, David decided to step up and take action.
He went before Saul and said to him, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
Saul told David he wasn’t ready to fight him. “You are only a young man, and he (Goliath) has been a warrior from his youth.”
David replied, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.”
David was letting Saul know he was already prepared for the battle with the Philistine. Just like David, we too are prepared when giants arise in our lives. Even though we may not believe it, all the tests and trials that we’ve experienced in our lives have prepared us to be victorious against any challenge that comes our way.
Secondly, David was just a young boy who had gone to check on his brothers at the request of his father. While he was there, he became curious as to why the Israelites feared Goliath and allowed him to mock them. Everyone was afraid to take Goliath up on his offer to fight—everyone except David. He didn’t allow his beliefs to conform to those of the others. David had his confidence in God and trusted that Goliath could be defeated.
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” - Matthew 19:26 (NIV)
David had the vision of a giraffe. I know this statement came out of left field but do you understand what I’m talking about when I say that? Let me explain.
Bishop T.D. Jakes, who is the founder and senior pastor of The Potter’s House, in Dallas, TX, spoke to this. He has written a book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, where he talks about why some people are unable to share in your vision. These people are the naysayers in your life. Most of us have dealt with them at some point. They are the people who try to tell you what you can’t do instead of what you can. You’ve heard them before. “That won’t work. You can’t do that. You aren’t smart enough. You’re too short to play in the NBA. You’re too tall to be a ballerina.” You get the point. These are the people who try to discourage you at every turn.
I will do my best to paraphrase my interpretation of what Bishop T.D. Jakes says about dealing with the naysayers. I may not describe it as eloquently as he does, but I’ll give it a try. My apologies in advance to you Bishop T.D. Jakes…just in case you’re reading this.
Bishop T.D. Jakes talks about the differences between turtles and giraffes. Giraffes are mainly known for their tall stature, long neck, and long legs. Conversely, turtles have short, sturdy limbs and are low to the ground. Even though giraffes and turtles may occupy the same space, their perspectives are from different vantage points. A turtle has a limited view because it can only see from its level, whereas the giraffe has a higher, broader view. So when naysayers say you can’t, it’s only because they can’t see what you can from their vantage point. “Just ‘cause you can’t see it don’t mean it ain’t.” I know that’s bad language and I just made that up…I think.
Giraffes are designed to be tall. They eat from trees. If they tried to eat off of the ground with a turtle, it would strangle itself. The giraffe will endanger its position when it tries to lower its perspective.
Applying this to the story of David and Goliath, David was a giraffe. David’s faith in God caused him to look at the giant from a different perspective than the other Israelites (the naysayers a.k.a. turtles). The Israelites believed the giant couldn’t be defeated, but David looked at Goliath as merely a mortal man who defied God. Rather than having a turtle’s perspective and believing in defeat, David aligned his perspective with the higher, broader view. God’s point of view. Because of that, David was able to annihilate Goliath.
The last point I am going to make is that David was not afraid to face the giant. The scripture says, “As the Philistine moved closer to the attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him.” While everyone else allowed Goliath to paralyze them, David ran toward the giant. This is a reminder that we must confront our giants head on. We must go confidently and courageously in the direction of our challenge. If you have fear, you must feel the fear, but do it anyway. Your trust has to be in the Lord. You can’t have one hand pulling you toward FAITH and the other viciously pulling you towards FEAR. That will keep you stuck in place. Paralyzed. Without any movement. Without any action. Faith and fear cannot co-exist in the same space. You have to make a decision. Either you focus on God and trust Him, or you give in to fear and become defeated. The choice is yours.
My giant happened to be called cancer. It would’ve be easy to wave my white flag and assume the position of 'man down', but I know I couldn’t. I didn’t want to be defeated. When I looked at my “giant” from God’s perspective, I realized God would fight for me and with me. I had to trust God and give it over to Him. This battle wasn’t mine; it was the Lord’s. (II Chronicles 20:15) The bible says,
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” - 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV)
That is exactly what I did. I put my confidence in God and believed that everything was going to be alright. Now am I saying I didn’t have to do any work? No, not at all. What I am saying is that I was willing to do my part and trusted God would do His. Even though I may not have understood why this was my life, I continued to stand on His promises.
I remember talking to a friend about my situation and he asked me, “Do ever you wonder why God would allow this to happen to you? You’re such a good person.”
I replied, “No, I’ve never waste my energy on the ‘why me.’ I always take the approach, ‘why not me?’ The fact of the matter is that it was what it was. There’s nothing I can do about my situation. I had cancer. However, I know everything happens for a reason. I may not understand it, but I trust it. I consider myself a strong and resilient person and I know I will get through this.”
Did I think the battle would be easy? No. Would I fight with all my might? Yes. I know for a fact giants do die. David showed us that. The bigger they are, the harder they fall.
This was my story. My giant was cancer. However, relating this to our current times, the giant we must defeat is COVID-19. Here are five (5) strategies to help you get through these challenging times:
- Choose faith over fear. Faith and fear cannot operate at the same time. You get to choose. Choose faith and stand on God's promises.
- Believe it's possible. Although this COVID-19 is a historic moment, this virus will be defeated. Don't buy into the negativity. Things seem impossible...until it's done.
- Be Resilient. Although it may be difficult to see what life will be like in 3 months, 6 months or even a year from now, know that you'll come through this better than you were before.
- Be Present. The present moment is all we have. Focus on the now and don't worry about what's to come.
- "STAY-AT-HOME / SHELTER-IN-PLACE." Please take heed. The life you save may be your own.
Andrea D. Campbell is a professional speaker, transformational couch and the author of The Beautiful Journey: Finding Purpose Through Cancer and God Never Waste a Hurt: 3 Steps to Move from Pain to Purpose. She is passionate about helping people live…on purpose. Facing death was a conscious reminder for her to make each moment count and she wants to inspire others to do the same.