We all know the story. Goliath's size and prowess were legendary. He was armored from head to toe. His weapons were unrivaled.
Day after day, he sauntered out of his camp to issue the challenge: Why put your whole army at risk in an all-out battle? I'll take on any one of you, one on one, and we'll settle the matter once and for all. One on one hardly seemed fair when Goliath was twice the size and twice the soldier of any man in the Israelite camp. This was more than a battle of brawn; it was a battle of nerves.
But Goliath made one serious miscalculation. He didn't realize there would be one Israelite who wasn't intimidated by his size or bravado.
David seemed oblivious to the risk he was taking by going head to head with Goliath. "The battle is the Lord's" - that's how David laid it out. "Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied" (I Sam. 17:47, 45). And with utter confidence and simplicity, David felled Goliath with a slingshot and a well-aimed stone.
We all have our Goliaths - problems that loom so large and feel so personally entrenched that we despair of making any headway in solving them, situations that we somehow believe to be unique: I'm the only mother whose children misbehave. I'm the only wife whose husband doesn't help out around the house. I'm the only worker with a boss who notices only my mistakes.
In such circumstances David's perspective is helpful: This is not about me. You're challenging the Creator of the universe. You're outnumbered!
David gathered up five stones from a brook. Perhaps his time at the brook was also spent taking stock of the constancy with which God had helped and protected him.
For me, a similar moment of reflection might sound like this: Every day, God teaches me something new about His nature and His care for me. When I need guidance, He gives wisdom, sometimes in the form of His sacred texts, sometimes in a very simple thought that comes to me when I am still and ready to listen and accept that wisdom. He teaches me humility and patience, which I need and which help me cope with each day's tribulations and trials. He teaches me that joy is not superficial; not found in things; not dependent on having things a certain way in my life, but rather on being willing to be more unselfish, more obedient, more honest.
These are simple, unassuming blessings. Like stones in a brook, they are everywhere, quite unmiraculous. They are also the strength and fiber of a life that has meaning and spiritual strength. They bolster such powerful qualities as hope, courage, and vision. They steady my aim and strengthen my resolve. And, most of all, they remind me that I am not alone. I am not in this world to defend myself, but to serve a God that I revere, love, and trust.
When I face a challenge, because I am learning to trust that God is guiding me, I can also trust that the challenge has come up to be mastered, and not to master me.
Mary Baker Eddy certainly surmounted many obstacles in founding this newspaper at a time when women had few rights and even less respect in the worlds of business and journalism.
Out of the richness of her own experience as a healer, teacher, author, and religious leader, she wrote, "Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee. Therefore despair not nor murmur, for that which seeketh to save, to heal, and to deliver, will guide thee, if thou seekest this guidance" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pages 149-150).
Goliath never had a chance. And, like David, we have opportunities each day to affirm that we are not alone, that Love is with us, that the challenge is never personal, and that we need not be intimidated.
The moment we accept that "the battle is the Lord's," our Goliath, whatever it is, is outnumbered.
I trusted in thee, O Lord:
I said, Thou art my God.
My times are in thy hand.
Psalms 31:14, 15