Read His Words Before Ours!
When I read the story of Joshua, it all seems so easy…
Admittedly, God’s instructions to Joshua and his army are strange…
march around the walls of Jericho once a day for six days
and seven times on the seventh day
But they’re clear and easy enough to follow.
What’s more, the outcome is entirely predictable. As long as they demonstrate their faith by obeying God’s command, on the seventh day, “the city wall will collapse, and the troops will advance.” (Joshua 6:5)
When I think about life today, it all seems much more complicated.
We all have situations where we would love to see God move in power like He did at Jericho. We have each had situations where we long for breakthrough, as we constantly circle them in prayer. Maybe we’re praying for healing or salvation for a loved one, seeking God’s wisdom about a major life decision, or coming to God with a long-held dream we can’t quite give up on despite the lack of opportunity for its reality.
Unlike Joshua, we often have no idea what the outcome will be,
or how long we will wait.
“Walking around these walls,
I thought by now they’d fall…
Waiting for change to come…”
It’s easy for the waiting to lead to discouragement.
Around five years ago, this all became very real to me as I prayed for a friend struggling with mental health issues. After a couple years of battling with this, during which I’d been praying regularly, her condition seemed to be spiralling downward. As she began texting me late at night with graphic descriptions of her depressed feelings, I felt helpless. I knew she was receiving professional help, so all I could do was pray, and I believed God could help and heal her. Unlike Joshua, I had no guarantee of how God would answer my prayer, or what that answer would look like.
I came to realise my faith must be based on something deeper
than the miracle I hoped for.
Fortunately, while we have examples in Scripture of God’s miraculous power, we also have examples of people waiting and praying in desperate situations. We meet people longing for answers that are slow to come.
Jeremiah lamented over Jerusalem’s destruction and his people’s exile to Babylon. Abraham waited decades for the child God had promised; his waiting eventually reached the point where it seemed physically impossible to bear a child.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into the fire for no crime other than obedience to God.
Yet all these people managed to hold on to their faith in God by looking beyond their circumstances and focusing on His faithfulness.
Amidst the ruins, Jeremiah declared:
“Because of the Lord’s faithful love
we do not perish,
for his mercies never end.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
Abraham held onto hope even when his situation was hopeless, humanly speaking, because, “he was fully convinced that what God had promised, he was also able to do.” (Romans 4:21)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were bold in proclaiming their trust in God’s power and goodness, despite the uncertain outcome of their situation.
“If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)
Each of these knew God’s faithfulness by experience and chose to put their trust in Him, just as this song declares:
“Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You’ve never failed me yet.”
In each case, the outcome was different, but the faithfulness of God
was exactly the same.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego experienced a speedy and miraculous rescue. Abraham finally saw the fulfilment of God’s promise after years of waiting. Jeremiah never saw the restoration of Jerusalem, though it did happen after 70 years just as Jeremiah had prophesied, because God is faithful.
How can we respond in our own situations where we long to see God move in power?
Tension exists between holding onto the solid hope that God is the same today as He was to Joshua, and that He is perfectly able to “do it again,” while also accepting God’s ways are not always predictable or understandable to us.
We’re called to have faith that God is able to move mountains, while we’re also called to trust in God’s faithfulness when the mountains fail to move exactly as we wish,
because He is always faithful to His promises.
We may not have the promise God gave Joshua that our walls will fall quickly and easily, but we do have several other promises, all rooted in His unchanging character.
He promises that….
- Nothing is impossible for Him. (Matthew 19:26)
- He has overcome the world. (John 16:33)
- He is working all things together for our good and His glory. (Romans 8:28)
- He is with us. (Matthew 28:20)
- The story has a happy ending for those who trust in Him. (Revelation 21:3-4)
Whatever our situation today, let’s choose to hold onto real, solid hope
and thank Him for His faithfulness!
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!