Day 80: Momentary Trouble (Joshua 4-6, Luke 2:1-24)

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.

DAY 80

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!

What type of mountain are you facing today?

How do these stories of faith and obedience inspire you to continue on your journey, despite the challenges you’re facing?

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Day 79: The Clear Hand of God (Joshua 1-3, Luke 1:57-80)

There are some moments in life when things happen out of the order of logic, explanation, or careful planning. There are moments when the people watching us wonder how in the world a hopeless is relationship restored, a pregnancy announcement is made when the after a infertility diagnosis, or healing when the disease is terminal.

In these passages from Joshua in the Old Testament and Luke from the New Testament, we see the clear hand of God in the lives of people devoted to Him. Joshua was leading an entire nation to the promised land of his forefathers, rallying the people every step of the way by proclaiming God’s faithfulness and goodness, and encouraging them to be courageous and strong. The promised blessing was coming, they just needed to persevere and continue to overcome, whether the obstacles were defeating an entire city or crossing the mighty Jordan river on foot. I love the Message translation of 1:5-6: “I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage!”

Day 79

In Luke, Elizabeth and Zachariah were rejoicing in a promise fulfilled as they brought their baby to the temple with their friends and family. Everyone was happy, but confused. I’m sure there were whispers: “They are so old! How is this possible? Do they have the energy to even handle this new baby?”

And then, when it came time to name the child, Elizabeth proudly announced his name “John” and panic ensued. “What? You can’t do that! That’s not normal! That’s not in line with our traditions! Zachariah, c’mon, tell her she’s crazy!”

There are two things I see in this passages as I study them closer. First, when God fulfills a promise in our lives, He does it exactly the way He has planned it for us. Others around us, even well-meaning friends and family, may not understand what God is doing, and may discourage us from pursuing what God is clearly directing.

Joshua had clear direction and guidance from the Lord about the promised land, and victory followed victory because of his unconventional pursuit of God’s very best for Israel. Elizabeth and Zachariah were given this beautiful gift of a promised fulfilled by God in the form of a baby. But it went so much deeper than the blessing of a child to a barren husband and wife – the purpose that God had for John’s life was extraordinary, and far beyond what any of their friends and family could have dreamed. God always has a plan!

Secondly, God uses these incredible moments in our lives to bring glory to His name. In the story of Joshua, he never took credit for what God was doing – he clearly pointed the glory back to God and rejoiced in victory even before it happened! John’s birth was a miracle, and Zachariah was given his voice back when he proclaimed what the angel had spoken to him. And the first words out of his mouth were praise and glory to God!

The greatest testimony to others about our faith and what Jesus does in our lives is not to simply spout off Bible verses or memorize cookie-cutter “Christian” phrases. Instead, we have the beautiful opportunity to speak about our circumstances in the light of God’s mercy and grace, and give Him all the glory for what He has done, is doing, and will do in our lives! Just as the people responded in awe watching these stories unfold, those surrounding us will also stand back and be amazed, saying, “I wonder what will happen next in this young woman’s life? Because clearly, God has His hand on her!”

Can you think of a time when a promise from God in your life was fulfilled at exactly the right time?

How did you use it to bring glory to Him as a result?