Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Not long ago, I wrote a post about being joyful in hope, and I’ve been thinking about the second part of the verse, “patient in affliction.” After my recent posts about Joshua 2 and Joshua 4, I want to come back to Joshua 3, which tells about when God stopped the Jordan River so that the Israelites could cross over into the Promised Land.
The Lord had promised a good thing (the Promised Land) to His people, but the Israelites had to go through a process to actively receive their inheritance. The Lord told Joshua to instruct the priests that “as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap” (Joshua 3:13). The river was in its flood stage (verse 15), which meant it was even more treacherous to cross. The priests had to take a literal, physical step of faith into the river before the Lord caused the waters to stand still. He was ready with the miracle but required this act of faith before the miracle would be performed.
I’ve been thinking about being “patient in affliction,” and I’ve been thinking a lot about hope. In my own life, my darkest, most difficult moments have been when I see little hope of a bad situation improving, however irrational the feeling may be. I have clung to the Lord in those times, and though I have been so weak, He has been and is faithful, as stated in 2 Timothy 2:13:
if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
As much as I have hated going through trials and prayed desperately for their end, I am finding that now I can look back and see how He was faithful, and these instances have led to a new hope. This new faith in His goodness, which has been a result of enduring times of difficulty, has given me a hope that I never had before. I have long had the hope of salvation, but I lived much of my life feeling anxious and afraid of all of the things that could go wrong in any given situation. I needed to believe, deep down, in His goodness before I could have hope, and this belief had to come from watching Him at work during and after times of very personal, internal adversity. Once we begin to believe in His goodness and have a resulting hope, we can be patient in affliction.
James 1:2-4 says,
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Hope produces both perseverance (patience) and faith. James 2:17 says,
Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
When we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8), we can more easily put our hope in Him. Hope produces patience and faith, and real faith leads to real works. If we believe He is good, we can step into the raging waters when He calls us. Though we may be afraid, we only need “faith the size of a mustard seed” (Matthew 17:20) in order for the Lord to perform the miracles that are necessary in order to bring us into the Promised Land, which is our inheritance.
As believers, our inheritance is none other than Jesus:
O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance.
When we face trials of many kinds, let the testing of our faith produce perseverance. When He calls us into turbulent waters, we can believe in, look for, and experience His goodness as we step into the water in faith. This journey ultimately leads us into our inheritance, which is the prize of knowing Him more. I have a long way to go, but I can tell you from my experience thus far that to know Him is to love Him. When I was in the midst of difficulty, I felt so insufficient. I clung to Him with all I the strength I could muster, which was not very much at all. Praise God that He remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14)! He can do mighty miracles with our tiny, mustard seed-sized faith. I pray that whatever turbulent waters He may be calling you into, you will take the step of faith He is asking of you and experience the wonders He wants to do within you, for the ultimate prize of knowing Him. I cannot express the joy I have now that I can truly say, “The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance.” The waters may flood and rage on, but He who calls us is faithful.