When I was a child, my dad would scare my brother and me by hiding in a thicket and growling like a lion. Living in the bush country of Africa, the possibility of encountering a carnivorous feline was real to us. Regardless, we would laugh delightedly whenever we heard the growl—thrilled by Dad’s act.

One day, a young friend came for a visit. As we played near a bush, we heard the familiar growl. Startled, our friend screamed and ran. And a funny thing happened— we took flight as well, just as scared! My dad felt terrible. But we learned not to be influenced by the panicked reactions of others. We knew the sound of my father’s voice and the harmlessness—indeed, the joy—of the situation. Any “danger” was merely a phantom lion.

Caleb and Joshua stand out in history as people unfazed by the panic of others. Prior to entering the Promised Land, Moses commissioned 12 scouts for a reconnaissance mission. They all saw a beautiful, fertile territory, but 10 of them focused on the negative (Numbers 13:28-29), and so they discouraged the Israelites from invading the land. In the process, they started a treasonous panic (Numbers 14:1-4).

But Caleb and Joshua accurately assessed the situation and courageously stood by their convictions (Numbers 14:6-9). They knew the history of their Father and trusted Him to bring them success.

Israel’s national failure to trust God angered Him. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?’” (Numbers 14:11).

Today, as believers in Jesus, we need to learn to recognize the phantom lions in our lives. Facing them should not be cause for panic. Instead, let’s choose quiet confidence in the One whose voice and deeds we know and trust.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Judges 13:1-25