Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.” — Deuteronomy 20:8
During this season when we give thanks for God’s many blessings and His faithfulness, enjoy this collection of devotions on what it means for us to be people of faith. As an expression of your faith and thankfulness, find out how you can help elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union who are alone and in need of lifesaving assistance this holiday season.
Maybe this has happened to you.
You are going about your business on a bright and sunny morning when suddenly you bump into “that person.” You know the one. He or she has nothing good to say about anything. The economy is only getting worse. The world is on the brink of war. Fumes from China are going to kill us all. It will be a miracle if our children turn out to be good people given today’s society and culture. Suddenly, the morning is not so bright and sunny anymore. It is transformed into a dark and scary place with danger lurking around every corner.
Fear is contagious. One person full of fear can infect all those around him or her.
In this week’s reading from Deuteronomy 20:8, we learn about the laws of war. Among them is the following: “Then the officers shall add, ‘Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home . . .’” Anyone who is afraid that he might be killed in war is ordered to return home. Why? “’ . . . so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.’” If one soldier is afraid, he stands to discourage all the other troops.
Indeed, fear is contagious, but thankfully, so is faith.
A few verses earlier we learn that before going into battle, the priest was to come before the soldiers and proclaim: “‘Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory’” (Deuteronomy 20:3–4). The priest’s faith would influence the hearts of the soldiers and fortify them to face battle with courage and faith.
Every day, we have the opportunity to spread fear or to increase faith. Faith and fear have something in common — they both require us to believe in something for which we have no proof. When we fear something, we believe that the worst will happen. When we have faith, we believe that everything will work out for the best. Both fear and faith require us to hang our hats on something that hasn’t yet happened. So why not choose faith?
Today, remember Deuteronomy 20:8 and choose to spread faith to everyone you meet. Someone may be in the midst of a dark and murky day, but suddenly you can be a ray of sunshine. You can smile and shine with the light of faith. You can speak words of faith and share stories of salvation. In a world infected with fear, today let’s provide a much-needed injection of faith.