Written By Guest Writer: Meskrem Teferi
Before I start, lets think back and remember a time in our lives when life was overwhelming. For some of us that time could be now, a time where things are out of our control. Lost phone, broken car, speeding tickets, and missed finals are minor things compare to the big challenges we face like: loss, sin, addiction, hurt, betrayal and many more. Depending on the nature of the circumstance and what it might hold, such time might bring pain, and a certain amount of anxiety that is unbearable. For years, months, weeks and days we wait for this overwhelming part of our life to end and hope to finally come to a point where everything is ok.
How To Cross The River
Can you imagine the suffering, anxiety, anticipation and excitement the people of Israel faced as they waited for the day to enter the promise land? The generation before them had failed to enter because of unbelief and the new generation had waited a long time. Why would God do this to his people? Following Jesus does not mean your worst days are over — sometimes things get worse. So, what is the lesson here that we, as followers of God, can apply as we continue to face challenges?
Led by Joshua, the Israelites came to the Jordan River in faith, depending on the Lord to receive the land He promised Abraham. Genesis 15:18 proclaims to Abraham “your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.” God continues to confirm this promise later to Moses and again to Joshua. As they stood in front of the river, they faced yet another big challenge.
It seems like God isn’t making it easy for the Israelites. First they had to wait this long and now, there is no way they can cross the overflowing river. At this moment I am pretty sure they are anxious and more frustrated than ever as they wait for a miracle. As I kept on reading I thought to myself, “why would God bring ‘His people’ to the river when it’s over flowing and hard to cross?”
Where Is God In The Suffering?
There is a bigger lesson here—we sometimes don’t see the presence and control God has over our lives when we are suffering.
Joshua 3:6 reads, “Joshua said to the priests, ‘Take up the Ark of the Covenant and pass on ahead of the people.’ So they took it up and went ahead of them. And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.”
The Ark is God’s covenant that He is with you and will finish what He started in your life, just like He finished what He promised Moses. The God who makes “the waters flowing from above [stand] still, rising up in a single heap” (Joshua 3:16–17) for the Israelites is the same God who will make a way for your life. What seemed to be this special gold box was a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites. It is the representation of a living God that is always ahead (“Look! The covenant chest of the ruler of the entire earth is going to cross over in front of you in the Jordan”) and in the midst of our lives working for our good.
Remember that in times when situations get worse, arguments turn into fights, bad habits turn into addictions, loves turn into heart breaks and gains turn into losses, there is a God that goes before you working miracles to fix it all in quality and quantity. These miracles might take time and things might not get better right away– but never forget God’s promise for your life.
The story of the Israelites, or our life story isn’t about our circumstances, pain, gain, or losses, but rather it is about the one who has made the promise. God is using our lives to show us it’s all about Him. Everything in our lives, from our happiest moments to our hurt and pain, it all points to Him. He is telling us that in the midst of your overwhelming and uncontrollably overflowing life look for Me.
Don’t be discouraged that this life you live is too much to handle, unbearable, unimportant. Find hope in the reality that whatever is broken, evil, hurtful, addictive, and disillusioned in your life will get better because Jesus has overcome it all on your behalf.
You may see nothing good come of pain and suffering in this world but God promises in Romans 8:28 that there is a place beyond our reality and what our flesh can apprehend that is real and everlasting good. The “good” isn’t to live long, rich, immune, invincible and happy (Not to say those are not good). Rather, it is to receive and know the LOVE of God and the glory that will be revealed to us.