As much as I like to think that I have a handle on this faith business, sometimes circumstances in life prove the opposite. I recently went through a battle with unexpected cancer and surgery. People would say, “Wow, you have really inspired me lately,” but the reality is that I have to fight really hard to be graceful and optimistic in the midst of hardships! I easily fall into the trap of seeing the mountain in front of me as unsurpassable, instead of seeing God’s hand guiding me through it. That’s our humanness seeping through the edges.
In both of these passages from the Old and New Testament, I see a common theme of faith, trust, and momentary troubles that are followed by the revealing of God’s plan. If Joshua had backed away from Jericho, letting fear overtake his orders from the angel that God had sent to him, the Israelites would have never seen victory handed to them for their faithfulness. Seriously, marching around a fortified city for seven days? Are you crazy?! How is that going to do anything except make your legs tired? And yet, the unthinkable happened because Joshua listened and God’s people obeyed: the walls came tumbling down.
Many years later, a young woman commissioned by God to carry His son and give birth to the Savior of the world was battling with her husband to find a place to stay in a city swarming with people who arrived for a “random” census. Mary was ready to give birth, and they couldn’t find anywhere to rest. She would have to give birth where? This royal child would have to be surrounded by animals in a dingy, dark stable?! Surely that’s not what God meant for His son?
When we read these verses, we can see the outcome. But at that moment in history, these very human men and women were simply putting one foot in front of the other, trusting God to lead them and believing His promises, even though they couldn’t see what was coming. They had been given a glimpse of the glory, but there was no step-by-step manual to guide them. And they had to overcome some incredible struggles and trials before God’s eternal purpose was revealed- and in most cases, they would never see the full purpose in their lifetimes!
The momentary troubles of this life are always far outweighed by God’s goodness and sovereignty. And His promise of victory and blessing through perseverance and obedience never fails us. Who knows where your next step of obedience will lead!