When life isn’t going the way you planned, how do you deal with it? I want to share three things in the blog this week, for anyone who might be feeling this way. It’s impossible to talk about things not going your way, without mentioning the children of Israel and the 40 years they wandered in the wilderness, searching for the Promised Land!
First of all, you need to realize there is always a way forward, but you may not be ready to see it. There are answers to our problems, but it may not be the one that we want. Remember the story about the people of Israel who came all the way to the edge of the Promised Land? God was ready for them to go into the Promised Land, but they weren’t ready. They weren’t ready and they turned back into the wilderness! The truth is, in life we’re going to run into problems and the way forward may not be at all the way we envisioned it or originally thought about it. You’ve got to have a change in course. The answer is there if we’re ready to see it.
Secondly, it really comes down to faith. It’s all about being willing to trust in God’s grace. Remember we’ve said faith is not ascribing to a set of beliefs…I believe, I believe, I believe. Faith is trusting when you don’t understand. Faith is trusting in God’s love towards us. And when you find yourself in the wilderness, when you’ve confronted a problem and you are going forward in a way that you did not plan when it’s a change of course can you trust that God is still with you in the midst of the wilderness? It’s not that God caused the problem. God wanted the people of Israel to go into the Promised Land, but they chose not to. They weren’t ready. It really is about trust and seeing God in the midst of the wilderness
But third, you and I can learn from the pain in the wilderness. There is something to be gained from the struggles and the pain in the wilderness. I don’t mean to minimize it, but the truth of the matter is, life confronts us with struggles and problems and there are things we can learn as we go through it. The people of Israel would spend 38 years in the wilderness. After just two years of wandering, here were their words:
Then all the congregation raised a loud cry and the people wept that night and all the people of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron and they said ‘would we have died in the land of Egypt’ and they said to one another let us choose a captain and go back to Egypt.
Those were their words! Thirty-eight years later they changed their outlook. Life moved on, people were married, babies were born, people died, life moved on and they learned how to be the people of God even though they were wandering in the wilderness. Moses would go up on a mountain and look over the Jordon River into the Promised Land and that’s where he would die. The mantel was now passed to Joshua and all those years he, too had been growing stronger and learning and Joshua called the people of Israel together and he said to them, today you must decide: before we go into this land you must decide who are you going to worship…are you going to worship the god of Baal or are you going to worship Yahweh? But as for me and my family we’re going to worship the Lord. And the people answered, far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt out of the house of bondage and who did those great sights in our, signs in our sight and preserved us all the way that we went. Wow. What a different statement from 38 years before. The truth is in the midst of our pain and struggles we can learn, we can grow. If we are able to trust there is a way forward. There may be a change in course but God is still leading us.