Men generally do better than women on standardized math tests. But two psychologists, Diane Quinn and Steven Spencer, discovered that they could influence the outcome slightly simply by changing the expectations.
Half of the experimental group were told they were taking a standardized test designed to measure their math ability. The women scored 10 while the men typically scored 25. It would seem to indicate that men are smarter in math, right?
But wait. The other half of the experimental group were told they were being given a test that was "gender fair." In that group, both sexes did equally well - both women and men scored 20. In other words, the women did better and the men did worse.
What made the difference? Their expectations. The same is true spiritually speaking: Your faith determines your outcome. If you have hopes and dreams, they will probably be as Job said, "What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me." - Job 3:25 NIV.
Goliath, the Rambo and Terminator of the Philistines, challenged Israel to send over its best fighter to duel with him. "When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear." - 1 Samuel 17:24 NIV.
They were already defeated before they ever set food on the field.
But David, even though smaller and less experienced, trusted in God. He killed the giant with a well-placed stone from his sheepherder's slingshot.
What is your Goliath? What do you fear? Is it an unsure job? Financial problems? Is your marriage falling apart? Are you worried about losing something you cherish? Is it a dreaded disease?
Regardless of the nature of your Goliath, God's message is turn it over to God. Ask Him to help you to look at your problem through eyes of faith, seeing possibilities and positive outcomes.
Fear destroys and paralyzes. Faith empowers and frees. You can be more than a conqueror over your fears today by simply doing what Jesus said years ago to Jairus, the father of the little girl who had died: "Don't be afraid. Just believe."
Are you facing a Goliath? The outcome of your life will be determined by your faith or your fear.
• Al Tilstra is pastor of the Yerington and Silver Springs Seventh-day Adventist churches and a member of the Carson City Ministerial Fellowship.