Six times and still nothing? Faith presses on

Ever feel like Habakkuk when he cried out, “How long, LORD, must I cry for help?” Sometimes it might feel like we are pressing forward with faith and obedience, and yet we do not see God’s intervention.

What can two stories about faith, obedience and God’s power teach us about living for our God? After all, we are neither the first nor the last to strive to live for God in a world filled with injustice and trials.

Let’s start by imagining we were one of those ancient Israelite warriors preparing to march around Jericho. Perhaps we were born shortly after Israel had received the Law at Mt. Sinai.

We have witnessed how God enabled Israel to overcome the powerful kings Sihon and Og. We have walked on dry ground across the Jordan riverbed because God caused the Jordan to stop flowing.

Therefore we have good reason to trust God’s message to Joshua. God had said that the walls of Jericho would collapse after we march around it for seven days.

And so we march in silence around Jericho for the first time. Absolutely nothing happens to the wall.

On the second, third,  fourth, fifth and sixth days our eyes examine both the lower and upper walls as we silently march onward. Is a crack forming? Does a single clay brick fall revealing the wall is weakening? Nothing! In faith we are obediently doing what God said, but there is no evidence that God is doing anything.

On the seventh day. God’s command is to march around the city seven times.   After completing six revolutions, the walls appear as solid and impressive as ever. We are doing what we are supposed to do. Why hasn’t God begun to work? Why?

Let’s step into the shoes of an ancient Syrian named Naaman. Let’s put ourselves in his place.

An Israelite prophet has sent out his servant to tell us that if we would dip ourselves seven times in the Jordan River our leprosy will be cured. We now stand in the river. Six times we have dunked ourselves under the water.  Once again we have stood up examining our hands and arms. But the leprosy remains as extensive ever.

Each dunk in the water is not removing more and more leprosy. This does not appear to be working. It does not look like the God of Israel is doing anything.

However, arising the seventh time our skin is as beautiful as a baby’s. And with that seventh march around the city followed by a great shout, the walls of Jericho collapse. God was at work. God was faithful.

This is not an article suggesting that seven times is a magic number to make God give us what we want. Rather, sometimes we need to press forward in faith and obedience even when we do not see the results as quickly as we desire. Faith presses on. Our God is reliable.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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