The Grasshopper Syndrome

by Kayla Barker

They have almost made it. The children of Israel have arrived right outside of the Promised Land secured for them by the Lord. God instructs Moses to send a man from each tribe to spy out the land before them (Numbers 13:1-2). From the account in Deuteronomy 1:22, it appears that this was originally the people’s idea, implying that they didn’t trust God enough to know if the land was safe to enter. They wanted to send men to spy out the land that God had already spied out for them. The people trusted their own ideas more than God’s wisdom, and they were walking by sight instead of by faith in the Lord. But God, in His steadfast love and long-suffering, goes along with Israel’s request.

Before the explorers set out on their journey into the Promised Land, Moses advises them on what to do, what to look for, and to be of good courage. From this account in Scripture, you remember that the twelve spies spend forty days on their trip, and upon their return they report on what they have seen. However, ten of the twelve spies bring back a bad report full of doubt and anxiety. They worried, “These Canaanite people are too strong for us! Their cities are big and we are too weak. We are like grasshoppers compared to them!” Yet the other two spies, Joshua and Caleb, trusted the Lord. In essence they were saying, “God’s got this! We must have faith in Him for our plans to succeed. We can surely overtake this land!” But it fell on deaf ears. The ten spies had the “grasshopper syndrome”; they felt too small and incompetent to do what God told them to do, and this attitude spread like a disease to the rest of the congregation of Israel.

Sometimes we as Christians get the “grasshopper syndrome.” We feel too small and inadequate to do the work of the Lord. We cry, “But I am so inexperienced! Surely the Lord could use someone else” or “I’m just a teenager. What could God do with me?”. We must be careful not to let these doubtful thoughts creep into our minds. This kind of thinking is not from God, but from Satan, who is ever trying to trick us into thinking we are not good enough. The truth is, you ARE good enough! If God created you, then you are well able to obey Him and carry out what He has called you to do. Each of us may not be able to do everything, but we can do something. Remember, God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called. Once we have submitted to Him through obedience (Romans 6:1-4), He will give us the strength and knowledge we need to carry out His good purpose, and as long as we give Him our best, He will be pleased (Revelation 2:10). So what are some steps that we, as Christians, can take to overcome the “grasshopper syndrome”?

First, we must remember that the work God calls us to do is always good. Joshua and Caleb tried to explain this to Israel after the people were provoked by the ten spies. “And [they] said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, ‘the land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land’” (Numbers 14:7). Joshua and Caleb wanted to reassure the people that what they had been working for was going to be worth it! God will never ask us to accomplish something for the wrong cause. The Lord’s work will always have the greatest cause because we serve the greatest God. Knowing this will give us proper motivation when we feel too small to achieve what God has told us to do.

Secondly, we must remember how God loves us. “If the Lord delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey” (Numbers 14:8). For Israel and us today to overcome the grasshopper syndrome, gaining strength from God’s favor is a must. Although unconditional love flows from the heavenly Father towards everyone, He will not come to our aid if we are deliberately disobeying Him. Joshua and Caleb were reminding Israel of the Lord’s love and support, but they also warned them not to rebel against God (14:9). Doubting God’s power in us is the same thing as rebellion and disobedience. The Lord would have given the land to Israel, but only if they honored His commands. When we obey and return our love toward God and abstain from having a rebellious heart, nothing will stop Him from giving us every good thing and answering our calls for help. So when we feel small and helpless, we can know that if we do our best at obeying God, His love will give us the strength that we need to carry out His will.

Third, to overcome the grasshopper syndrome, we must have no fear of the “giants” of life. Joshua and Caleb told the people, “And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us….do not fear them” (Numbers 14:9). The ten spies brought back a fear-filled report because of the size of their enemies. They seemed to be giants! How would they ever defeat them? Yet, all they had to realize was that God will give them into their hands. They had nothing to fear because nothing is impossible with Him (Matthew19:26). We may not be fighting physical giants today, but many times our situations in life can feel very gigantic, in turn making us feel very small. But when your fear is about to clobber your faith, you can tell your giants, “My God is bigger than that!” Let me repeat that. My GOD is BIGGER than that! Handing our big problems over to a bigger God helps us to stand taller in the face of adversity.

Finally, we must remember that God is always with us. “…Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them” (Numbers14:9b). God had never left Israel; they themselves had strayed away from His protection in their disobedience. The Lord promised them that He would never leave nor forsake His chosen people (Joshua 1:5), yet they chose to find no strength or comfort in His assurance. The two faithful spies tried to encourage the rest of Israel with this reminder, but they would not listen. They could not see through their blinding fear. How sad that one of God’s most comforting promises can also go unheeded with us as His children. God knows what we are going through, and He will not let us endure something that we cannot handle with His help (1 Corinthians 10:13). So when you are faced with temptations and trials that push you to the ground from all sides, the Lord is always there beside you, reassuring you with His Word, “I am with you always, and I can lift you up. You shall not be left alone.” (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5.)

We as humans are small. We are weak. Without God, we have the right to feel like grasshoppers up against the giants of life, because without Him, they would crush us. But with the Lord on our side, what can the world do to us? With a big God on our side, we can feel bigger and stronger because He is big, strong and ultimately able to defeat any enemy that gets between us and Him. “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

Content used with permission from Kayla Barker. You can read more of Kayla's writings on 

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