Lately I’ve become more and more intrigued by studying the closing chapters to books in the Bible, especially the letters of the New Testament. The Holy Spirit is leading and guiding these authors to put to paper the living words of our God. There is so much depth to it all, but what’s been striking me about these closing words is that these are often places filled with the most challenge and encouragement.
As I get to the end of a book of the Bible I sometimes picture God saying “Okay, I just said a lot and here’s what I’m going to leave you with. Pay attention till the end. Here’s my challenge for you. Here are my last words for this letter/book. You don’t want to miss this!”
I had this thought in mind as I approached chapter thirteen of Hebrews. I made it four verses in before I was caught on a passage that I couldn’t move past without studying deeper.
"Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you."
Hebrews 13:5-6 says, “be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’”
Reading this spoke deeply to my heart in this season. Our world seems to be turned upside-down in so many ways over the past five months. We never could have imagined any of this, but God is still with us. We can be content even when things don’t go the way we planned, but being content is never about what we do or don’t have, but about the God who promises to always be with us and always provide for us.
Within Hebrews 13:5-6 there are two quotes from the Old Testament. The first is “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you,” which comes from Deuteronomy 31:6. The second is a quote from Psalm 118:6-7: “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Jumping back to Deuteronomy 31, leads us into the middle of the account of Moses telling the people of Israel what they will soon be coming against in their journey to enter the Promised Land.
“Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: ‘I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’ The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the Lord said. And the Lord will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. The Lord will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.’”
The Israelites were wandering in the wilderness and Moses was telling them that they were going to have to fight to get to the land the Lord had promised them. They would need to fight and God would bring deliverance.
There are so many things we could focus on from this passage, but the main thing that kept sticking out to me as I studied Hebrews 13 and Deuteronomy 31 was where the focus is placed in the midst of uncertainty.
Moses could have said “My time as your leader is coming to an end and the Lord told me that you’re all going to have to defeat some of your enemies soon to get to where God is bringing you, but don’t be afraid. Remember all the training you had. Remember how strong you are and how you can do this.”
The reality is that Moses doesn’t address the people’s abilities at all. The focus in this passage is fully on God. Moses speaks of times in the past when God delivered them. He reminds them of how powerful God is. Moses tells them to be strong and courageous not because they are good enough to defeat their enemies, but because God is going to be with them.
Similarly in Hebrews the author doesn’t tell the people to be content because they have enough or because they will always be able to provide for themselves. They are encouraged to be content because God will never leave them or forsake them.
This has been speaking to me powerfully over this past week and I pray that it can shift your perspective as well. Taking our eyes off of our abilities and what we think we can or can’t do and placing it all on God.
We are in the middle of unprecedented times. Many of us feel "in over our head". Fear is continually trying to take us down. Uncertainty can feel suffocating. The more we look at our situations and the world around us, the worse we will feel. But God. If in those moments we choose to look to God and remember that He is our Helper, Provider, and Healer who will never leave us nor forsake us, that changes everything.
As I look to the coming months there are multiple things I’m facing that seem daunting and overwhelming. Telling myself “I can do it” leads to me trying to think of what qualifies me to be able to complete it. In the middle of a global pandemic, most of us aren’t feeling very equipped or qualified for what we are facing. If instead we chose to look to God and say “God can do it” we are able to confidently approach the challenges ahead, knowing that it’s not about us, but it’s about our sovereign, omnipotent God who will never leave us and never forsake us.
Alycia Bini was born and raised on Staten Island but now lives in Erie, Pennsylvania where she is starting her fourth year of being a Campus Missionary with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. After graduating from college with a Biology degree in 2017, Alycia followed the Lord’s leading away from a career in the medical field and into ministry. Since then she has worked with Chi Alpha on two campuses: Edinboro University & Penn State Behrend.
Camille has known Alycia since she was a little girl and is (as well as her mom and dad) so proud of the woman she has become. It's been a blessing watching her journey with Christ and we cheer her on as she ministers here at home (missions) as well as abroad.