Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Joshua had a unique faith that pleased God, and he was able to come back to the Promised Land. The entire generation, who left the Egypt and walked on dry land through the Red Sea, perished due to their unbelief. They saw the promised land, but they believed the report of the ten spies who told an impossibility of getting into the land due to the strong people and the terrifying giants in the land rather than God’s promise made generations before. We easily say why they did not believe the God’s promise? They saw God’s hand and experience many miracles including parting the Red Sea. They were able to see the dead bodies of the Egyptian armies floating near the shoreline. The Egyptian armies were drowned while testing God’s hand. Why couldn’t they believe? Did they did not trust God and His promise? No. They did. When an impossibility came, they could not resist and give in. Only believed Joshua and Caleb. By the way, what is the impossibility? It was originated from the minds of the Israelites. That was the fear only existed in the hearts of the Israelites despite of God’s promise and His presence.
Joshua was different. His faith pleased God. Even so, Joshua’s faith was not perfect. He was too competent not to ask God before attacking Ai. He was under a celebrative mood after the huge victory over Jericho, which was a big and completely fortified city surrounded by a strong wall reaching to the sky. Ai was much smaller and weaker than Jericho. Joshua sent spies, and the spies gave a report that matched with his assessment. Based on his own judgement, Joshua sent a small number of Israel warriors. Unexpectedly, they easily defeated by Ai. It was a wakeup call. Joshua suddenly realized that all things belonged to God, and his fault and sin not asking to God first. He, then, humbled and asked God. Before Joshua’s humility, God was able to guide and help Joshua and his armies. Joshua could conquer Ai because God fought for them. After this painful experience, Joshua felt that he learned enough. He would not get into another trap of his own like this.
Sadly, it was not the case. Soon Joshua was visited by the Gibeonites. The Gibeonites, who feared the Israelites, disguised themselves as if they had traveled far. With flattering words, they presented dry loafs of bread, old wineskins, worn out clothing and sandals. To the eyes of Joshua and his leaders, all made sense and logical. Joshua and the Israelites carefully and thoroughly examined all evidences, but they did not consult God. Then Joshua made a peace treaty with them and guaranteed their safety, and the leaders of the community ratified their agreement with a binding oath. Three days after making the treaty, the Israelites reached the towns of Gibeonites. Then Joshua and his people realized that they were deceived. Joshua again experienced the consequence of not asking God first. For this time, the people of Israel grumbled against Joshua and his leaders because of the treaty made out of the deception. God allowed Joshua to be publicly humiliated. Joshua learned hard way.
Why did God make Joshua fall into the traps that made by himself? God dearly loved Joshua. Especially, Joshua’s unique faith pleased God. In fact, God had a grand plan for Joshua, but Joshua was not fully qualified for the God’s grand plan. God saw the potential of Joshua, and God let Joshua go through faith lessons specifically designed for Joshua. The goal was neither to make Joshua disappointed nor to be humiliated, but to have Joshua to acquire the faith that needed for God’s plan. God’s plan was grandiose and Joshua was also truly great. After the two painful failures in a row before God and his own people, Joshua got it. Joshua knew who God was and what God actually would do: God was infinitely loving and faithful, and He kept His promise no matter what happened. When the entire generation of the exodus from Egypt was unfit for His promise, God raised another generation who could possess the Promised Land as promised by God long before. When Joshua was not fully prepared, God gave him chances to learn through trainings that God specifically prepared for Joshua. Yes, Joshua was heartbroken before the dead warriors killed by Ai and he was publicly humilated before the entire people, who was much younger than him because the entire new generation of the Israelites was born in the wilderness.
A failure in our lives is painful. We powerlessly observe our lives falling off, as it comes into our lives. We try to avoid it, but in fact, it is not avoidable because it is the very consequences of our failure. As the pain increases, we desperately pray to God and ask prayers, but nothing changes. Why? God dearly loves us. He wants for us to learn, understand and grow in Him. We have talked about the impossibility confronted by the Israelites when they tried to enter the Promised Land. Let’s question about the true nature of the impossibility. Was it really impossible? The answer was “yes” as far as the Israelites concerned. Why did they think that it was impossible? Their assumption was to use their own strength to defeat the strong people living in fortified cities surrounded by immense walls, and the terrifying giants. The generation of unbelief, thus, had to perish with the unbelief in the wilderness. Forty years later, God brought a new generation, and proved that it was not impossible. Joshua and the new generation of Israelites believed God’s promised, and they entered the Promised Land in faith. There was no evidence that the new generation was stronger and more skillful at a battle than the old generation perished. The military strengths of both generations must have been essentially equal. Then what’s the difference to make them boldly go into the Promised Land. Only was the difference whether believing God’s promise or not under an impossibility. As matter of fact, God fought for the Israelites. As we know, the first battle against Jericho did not require any military tactics nor strength. They just followed God’s command while circling around the wall of Jericho for seven day in their absolute faith. It was sufficient. The strong wall fell at the sound of the Israelites shouting in faith. Jericho without the protection of the strong wall was literally nothing. They were in confusion and chaos, who were completely destroyed by the unskilled and untrained bunch of the decedents of the Ex-slave.
Is there nn impossibility in our lives? No. The impossibility only lives in our distorted minds and heart as fear, which are manufactured by our own eyes and thoughts. Before God, our impossibility is not an impossibility at all. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
Then why, when we pray and even cry out before God, nothing is changed? Pains and difficulty in our lives continue. In fact, our life pains are actually specifically designed and prepared by God for each one of us, who are God’s dearly beloved children. We all believe that God provide the best for His beloved children. However, it is very difficult to hold on our belief especially when God’s love is expressed as pains and storms in our lives. Our natural and usual reaction, of course, is to cry out to God with prayer to remove the hardship and eliminate pains and calm storms. Yes, God carefully hears our prayer especially as we are in a life pain like an earthly parent who keenly pay attention to children’s cry, and provides a care and comfort. However, if our children just cry out for pains only while sitting still without growing, then the crying baby become our pain as a parent. Why do we sometimes introduce pain to our children? Do we do randomly? No, we carefully plan with love, and give to our children because we know they could overcome and grow out of the pain. are they in pain? We know it is a necessary step needed for our children to grow properly. The relationship between us and God is not must different. Yes, God hears our pray out of our pain. However, if we just pray to remove our pain and simply wait for removal of the pain, then how much will this cause a pain in God’s heart? God wants for us to grow out of pain because it is the best way to grow in God, and God has specially and specifically prepared for each of us. What God truly wants is our deeper experience and understanding of Him and His promise in faith with a deepening relationship with Him. God is our ever-loving Father. Hope in Him while experiencing our life pain, failure, difficulty in faith. In Bible, Job was faithful, but he lost his children, his wife, his wealth and his own health. He expressed his faith, “And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!” (Job 19:26) This is Job’s triumphant claim over his life pain. He could endure, which made God pleased. This is our faith in Him:
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)
Here is what Jesus told to His disciples and us:
“You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” (Luke 11:11)
Therefore, what should we do when we confront with our life pain, disappointment, hardship, and failure? We need to give thanks to God for His provision of the best although our eyes cannot see and our mind tells the other way due to the pain. Surely, He knows pains, but He patiently waits for us to grow in Him. This is our faith, and our praise to God in our life pain. This is the most precious before God’s eyes and for us.
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)