We watched the movie The Big Friendly Giant as a church the other day. Fear seems to be one of the the prevalent themes of the movie. Sophie, the little girl, was an orphan and afraid of the world outside of the orphanage. Furthermore, she was initially afraid of the The Big Friendly (aka The BFG) and the other giants in the land. The BFG was afraid of human beings and, despite being a giant himself, he was afraid of the other giants in the land as well. Like those characters in the BFG, we also FEAR just about anything. I mean, we fear battles in life because they usually take us to unknown territories. They take us to lands that are not so familiar to us and, quite often, cause us to FEAR and give up on the battle. We fear the unfamiliar territory of our battles in life because, just like the character(s) in the BFG, we feel they are giants. We are impacted by what I call "Grasshopper Syndrome."
In Number 13:25-33 we find the Israelites suffering of the grasshopper syndrome and fearing the battles and giants in the land.
One of the major consequences of the grasshopper syndrome is a disregard for the Lord’s blessings. It causes a sort of spiritual blindness that keeps us from enjoying and celebrating God’s blessings. It truly causes discouragement.
In the BFG movie, we find the BFG constantly discouraging Sophie from facing the giants. They seem to be impossible to overcome. So, the BFG is restricted to live in a dark place and eating no good food while the giants live in a sunny and green land with all sorts of good food. The BFG accepts his condition because he is afraid of facing the giants and the battles.
In Exodus, the Lord promised a land of abundance. A land that was everything more than Israel had asked for, thought about, and imagined. When the Israelites arrived in the land, they had a glimpse of the abundant blessings of the Lord. More precisely, in Numbers 13, some men were chosen to explore the land of milk and honey. The land was indeed immeasurably better than they could have possibly conceived.
The land of milk and honey was to be celebrated. The fruits were humongous so much so that they needed two men to carry them. It was so much more abundant than they expected that they spoke of the abundance of the land,
“We arrived in the land you sent us to see, and it is indeed a magnificent country-- a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is some of its fruit as proof” (v. 27).
The Israelites had all the reasons to celebrate because what the Lord (Yahweh) had promised them was true. Not only had they seen the land of milk and honey but they actually brought a glimpse of the abundant blessings with them. There was enough reason to celebrate. As the Lord promised, the land was indeed very good. However, the grasshopper syndrome kept them from celebrating.
In one of the scenes of the BFG, one of the giants invaded the house of the BFG, the whole focus of the scene is the giant in the room. Despite of the beautiful land outside, the BFG is restricted to a small and dark space. The only focus is the giants. Like in the movie The BFG, God quite often shows glimpses of the great things He will do. Despite possible battles, he shows glimpses of the blessings of a land running with milk and honey. However, like the Israelites, we sometimes suffer the grasshopper syndrome. The grasshopper syndrome causes us to be discouraged and blinds us from seeing the abundance (blessings) of the land. The grasshopper syndrome causes to feel that, in a battle, our only focus should be on the giants of the land.
The Lord (Yahweh) promised the land of milk and honey. He promised that He would be with them. However, He never promised that battles would never happen. More importantly, He never promised that the land would be empty. On the contrary, in Exodus 3:8, God says,
“…to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey-- the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”
He wanted His people to get excited about the land He was about to conquer for them. Yet, the focus of some of the Israelites was not on the blessings but on the giants of the land,
“But the people living there are powerful, and their cities and towns are fortified and very large. We also saw the descendants of Anak who are living there!” (v. 28).
Whenever the grasshopper syndrome gets hold of our heart and mind, we focus on the impossibilities as if battles and the giants of the land are all that is in the land. Almost all the men of Israel did not celebrate the blessings of the land. Most of them focused on the impossibilities the battle (giants) instead of the blessings.,
”’….We can't go up against them! They are stronger than we are!’ So they spread discouraging reports about the land among the Israelites: ‘The land we explored will swallow up any who go to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. We felt like grasshoppers next to them, and that's what we looked like to them!’” (vv. 31 – 33).
No, God does not want us to ignore the reality of the battle(s) and giants of the land. However, he wants to heal us from our grasshopper syndrome when facing seemingly impossible battles. He wants us to focus on Him for the land is not simply filled with giants but is indeed very good and overflowing with milk and honey. Amen.