My wife and I were talking the other night and she commented to me that this year has been a weird one. In the past 12 months we've dealt with multiple hurricanes, potentially serious health issues, the sudden loss of her mother, a major decline in health of her closest friend (cancer), and then the abrupt and unexpected death of an old friend she cared deeply about just this past week.
I'm sure that many of you can relate. You may even be thinking that my wife's struggles are NOTHING compared to what you are going through!
It's like the old Charlie Brown cartoon where Lianas asks Charlie Brown, who has once again fallen for Lucy's football trick and is lying flat on his back on the ground; "Charlie Brown, do you ever feel like life is passing you by?" Charlie Brown replies, "No, I feel like life has knocked me down and keeps stomping all over me." Sometimes life is brutal.
That's why one particular phrase in the Bible has become a favorite of mine. The phrase? "And it came to pass…" You see, everything does! Come to pass, that is! "Life is but a vapor", King Solomon said. Nothing lasts forever.
Joshua, the Israelite leader, surely had it rough. His first 60 years were lived as a slave under Ramses the Egyptian Pharaoh. As a child he probably watched as his father and brothers were beaten by the slave masters of Egypt. Then as a young man he would surely have been among those forced to labor endlessly at Pharaoh's famous building projects.
Finally, when Joshua was 60 years old, a man named Moses came to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt! And lead them out he did! When they arrived at their destination Joshua was sent (along with some others) into Canaan to spy out the land, and he came back with an optimistic report! "The land is just as we were promised! We need to trust God and go for it!" But 10 of his co-laborers were not so filled with faith! They said, "NO WAY! It's too hard!"
And the people listened to the pessimists. Because of that fact all of Israel (including Joshua) wandered in circles for the next 38 and a half years!
Eventually that season, too, came to pass, and Israel entered Canaan only to find obstacle after obstacle faced them. However, with each PASSING obstacle, with each passing victory, their faith grew. Joshua, in the last 10 years of his life, saw all his hopes and dreams fulfilled. He experienced victory after victory as HE was blessed to lead his people into their very first home, in freedom!
The sad thing is there were some who refused to enter. (Numbers 32) They decided to just stay where they were, on the far side of the Jordan River. And they were allowed to do so!
But THEIR lives were just as hard as the rest of Israel! The only real difference was that THEY missed out on God's miraculous involvement. They never got to see the sun stand still in the valley of Aijalon (Joshua 10)! They didn't witness the walls collapsing and the supernatural victory at Jericho (Joshua 6)!
Don't ever settle for second best just because it looks easier. You may miss out on the miraculous if you do! And you'll probably find, though not until the end, that your journey was really no easier for having chosen the "easy road".
So hang in there! Yes, life is hard sometimes, but God is always good, and if you call out to Him in those hard times you'll find that He's eager to involve Himself in the "battles" of those who invite Him. And to quote someone wiser than I; "If God be for us, who can be against us?"
Just a thought,
- Pastor Robert Fountain