Within this reading, we are reminded and easily can reflect upon these words: "The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size." Numbers 13:32. Joshua and Caleb saw God, not the giants as the Israeli spies did when they went to investigate the land. They knew that when they overcame their opposition they would be stronger than if there had never been any "giants" to defeat. Joshua and Caleb believed that keeping their eyes focused on God would bring them through the difficulties to the promised land.
Something I have learned and believe with every ounce of my being is the words I read on this day: "We encounter giants only when we are serving God and following Him. It was when Israel was going forward that the giants appeared…." In the most peacefully disturbing way this has brought increased expectation and hope for my weary soul many times over.
I asked a friend just yesterday if I should have increased or decreased hope that everything in our life is such a struggle…I honestly want to know? She didn't want to answer me fearing "playing God" but this very morning God led us to this reading. Streams goes on and talks about Paul and his severe and endless conflicts but concludes with reminding the reader than he ALWAYS "emerged victorious through the strength of Jesus Christ. What comes next is one of my most personally understood series of verses in The Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:8-10. "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body."
We may be surrounded by "enemies" but we will not be crushed. The literal meaning is that we are crowded from all sides, but we are not defeated. We may be blocked or twarted by the enemy, but evenso we will persevere as we trust God to light the way to our next step. In one literal translation it is described as being "without a road, but not without a 'side road' of escape." Next, we can additionally be pursued but not abandoned by The One who will NEVER leave us nor forsake us. As we progress through these verses, the fourth image is even more difficult to deal with as the enemy has in fact overtaken us, struck us and knocked us down. There is comfort even here, as we focus on the fact that the blow is not fatal: we are able to rise again…and will if we choose to as we are not destroyed. We may have been "overthrown," but we have not been "overcome." In the final image of verse 10, the "life of Jesus" comes to our rescue and we live through that life until our own lifeswork is complete…our assignment, chosen by our Creator Himself.
"Difficult times and places are our schools of faith and character. If we are ever to rise above mere human strength, and experience the power of the life of Christ in our mortal bodies, it will be through the process of conflict that could very well be called the 'labor pains' of the new life."
I know it was no coincidence that God led me to the answer to my question. The One who loves me in every unlovable place and state I find myself within handed me the reassurance this day that EACH hurdle and EVERY battle is handed to me in love and with a purpose of producing incredible fruit from my small and insignificant life that without Him serves NO purpose, but with Him serves others and even myself in ways I have yet to know or realize. I will walk in faith and trust that He orders my steps.
A man's steps are from the Lord; how then can man understand his way? Proverbs 20:24