We are all on a continuous journey through life, each of us experiencing life changing moments that shape us for the better, or for the worse. As we encounter situations that shake us and even break us at times, we have no choice but to walk away from those situations with lessons learned. The truth is that in all of these moments, the lessons we learn is our own choice.
Are you someone who quickly learns the negative lessons from the storms of life, while ignoring the positive value of those life-shaping moments? I have learned that, even in the most difficult times, God somehow takes those situations to shape us for the better.
Many times in my life I have faced disappointments. I have had dreams and plans that didn’t work like I believed that they would. I have spent years building and caring for dreams that seemed to end in ruin. I have had relationships and friendships that I thought would last forever, but ended with disappointment and hurt. When these battles appear, they are most always without warning. In the heat of a battle, we can only focus on one thing; Survival. After the battle ends, it is what we pick up and carry out with us that will shape us the most… forever!
Look at this example in Joshua:
(Joshua 7:2-7 NLT) (2) Joshua sent some of his men from Jericho to spy out the town of Ai, east of Bethel, near Beth-aven.
(3) When they returned, they told Joshua, “There’s no need for all of us to go up there; it won’t take more than two or three thousand men to attack Ai. Since there are so few of them, don’t make all our people struggle to go up there.” (4) So approximately 3,000 warriors were sent, but they were soundly defeated. The men of Ai (5) chased the Israelites from the town gate as far as the quarries, and they killed about thirty-six who were retreating down the slope. The Israelites were paralyzed with fear at this turn of events, and their courage melted away.
(6) Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the LORD until evening. (7) Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign LORD, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side!
This was a battle that was supposed to be an ‘Easy Win.’ They were not concerned at all, never gave a thought to the possibility of defeat. When they started dying off and found themselves fleeing with fear, no doubt their hearts sunk and their feeling of security quickly faded. “How can this be?” “Has God not led us this far?”
Joshua, even though his spirit was crushed, somehow held on to enough wisdom to cry out to God. But listen to his cry in verse 7 and see if you can relate:
(V7) Then Joshua cried out, “Oh, Sovereign LORD, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side!
In that moment, Joshua was teetering between learning a lesson that would change him for the better, or for the worse. Thankfully, the primary advantage for making the wisest decision was put into place because of Joshua’s first instinct to ‘cry out to God.” That only comes from previous practice! Listen to Joshua and see if it sounds like a prayer you might pray in that type of a moment; “Oh, Sovereign LORD, why did you bring us across the Jordan River if you are going to let the Amorites kill us?” He went even further and said something I know I might have said: “If only we had been content to stay on the other side!”
Joshua could have easily learned a lesson that would have altered the course of history for the worse. He could have spent the rest of his life refusing to try again because of a fear of failure. From this prayer he prayed, we can see that was indeed the way he was leaning, but THANK GOD Joshua was accustom to taking everything to God in prayer FIRST. (You have to get this!) Because Joshua was pleading his case to God, and because he was also wise enough to share his disappointments with God, Joshua was in a place that God could turn his head the other direction and learn a positive lesson.
I absolutely love God’s response to Joshua: “But the LORD said to Joshua, “Get up! Why are you lying on your face like this?” (Joshua 7:10 NLT) These are the same words God has spoken to others, including Elijah when he was hiding from Jezebel. I know God has used that same line on me and probably you too! God then went on to reveal to Joshua that the reason for failure was a disobedience that brought sin into the camp. Joshua stood up, and made a decision to let this experience make him wiser and change him for the better. He confronted the man who brought disobedience and defeat on the people and took care of it.
God saw that Joshua learned the right lesson and gave him another shot at it. The reason Joshua felt comfortable with another attempt was because of Gods words to him in chapter 8; Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged. Take all your fighting men and attack Ai, for I have given you the king of Ai, his people, his town, and his land. (Joshua 8:1 NLT)
I could write all day about examples such as these in the Bible, but instead I ask you to think about some of your own examples. Have you ever reacted like Joshua and said; “God, WHY?” I know I have. Those reactions are normal reactions. The important lesson we should learn from this example is:
• If your normal routine is to take everything to God in prayer, then that will be your first reaction when trouble comes. Prayer sets the atmosphere for creating good decisions.
• You can allow the lessons learned from defeat to change you for the better, or for the worse, the choice is up to you!