In the book of Deuteronomy, we have Moses’s sermon before he died and his reminders to the Israelites of all God’s commands. In Deut 7:17-18, he says, ‘You may say to yourselves, “These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out?” But do not be afraid of them; remember well what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.” In these verses, we have both a negative and a positive which give us clues on how to handle life at all times.

We need to watch our inner monologues, the things we say to ourselves, because it’s these things which ultimately determine our actions. Often, our inner monologues are so subconscious we are not really aware of them. Moses warned the people not to be led by these conversations. They may well be founded on truth (the nations certainly were stronger than the Israelites) and it’s not wrong to ask questions. But so often, the place these inner monologues lead us to is one of fear, anxiety and defeat. The ten spies who returned from the Promised Land saw giants and their hearts trembled; the conclusion they reached was false (that God could not deliver them and therefore they should not enter that land, despite His promises.) We need to beware what we say to ourselves, because we may well end up believing erroneous conclusions as a result (God doesn’t care; He’s not there; He’s not powerful.)

The way out of this, Moses says, is to remember well what God has done. Focus on God. Think about all the things He has already done for us. Remind yourselves of His love, care, interventions and miracles. Remembering what God has done is the only real antidote to anxiety and fear. Because God acts in a consistent, unchanging way, the things He has done in the past give us hope for how He will act in our current uncertain present and future. When we focus on God, our attitudes and actions are changed: ‘Do not be terrified by them, for the Lord your God, who is among you, is a great and awesome God.‘ (Deut 7:21) When we focus on our great and awesome God, we can face the tragedies of life with hope and confidence.