“I can’t. It’s too hard. I give up.” These are words that flow like wax from a melted heart.
We think of a heart melting as a good thing. The Bible, however, frequently uses that image to visualize fear that melts what should be a brave heart.
For example, scouts returned from the Promised Land with glowing reports of its abundance, but their description of the enemy “made the hearts of the people melt with fear” (Joshua 14:8). On the brink of their greatest victory, God’s chosen people looked across Jordan’s currents and saw tall, well-muscled men trained to fight. They saw thick-walled cities, defense systems, and weapons of war. They saw defeat.
So, they quit! They gave up without a fight, and the end result was the same as if they had been beaten by the enemy. They died homeless and wandering.
Do our hearts melt with fear? Does God’s call to live counter-culturally – to be different – intimidate us so much that we back off and blend in? Does taking a stand and doing the right thing seem so dangerous that we detour around it? Can facing the pain of marital conflict feel so huge that we give up? Does the wall of our sin seem too tall to climb so that we surrender to the temptation? The problem with having hearts that melt in fear is that, like Israel, we miss the boldest and best of God’s promised blessings.
Forty years after Israel’s heart melted, something changed. Not the challenge. The cities and soldiers of Canaan were as strong and frightening as ever. The dangers were just as real. But a new generation arose – a generation who, standing on that same river bank, seeing the same formidable challenges across the way, managed somehow to muster, not more soldiers, but a bit more faith. They trusted God enough to step into the water and begin.
With that faith and their Father as allies, the war was won. This time, it was the enemy’s heart that melted like cheap wax . When they “heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts melted and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites” (Joshua 5:1).
A strong, solid heart is crucial for success. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). Be strong. Don’t melt!