For me, when things are going really well it’s easy to talk about how good God is, to be thankful, to be joyful, and to acknowledge that God is in control. When things don’t go the way I had hoped (and prayed) they would, it is way to easy for me to feel discouraged and feel like God has forgotten me, or that He doesn’t have a good plan for my life. Feeling discouraged can make me hard-hearted and sometimes angry. I doubt I’m alone in that. For the past week I’ve been struggling with a big disappointment over not getting something that I had really, really wanted and prayed for. My heart has been heavy, my spirits low, and, while I know that God’s promises still stand, I don’t feel like they do. This is a difficult thing to admit, but it’s where I was today. So,while reading through Joshua 8 and Proverbs 8 for this post, I was searching for something that would provide comfort to me about my feelings of disappointment. I read, re-read, prayed, and meditated on these passages, looking for something that would soothe the wounded part of my spirit.
What eventually spoke to me was not what I went looking for. In the last paragraph of the Joshua 8, after the City of Ai has been conquered and the spoils plundered, Joshua builds an altar to the Lord, writes on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, and then reads all the words of the law to all the people. I kept thinking about how tired these people must have been. How excited to have plundered the riches and been able to keep them this time, etc. But we don’t read about a fantastic celebration with feasts and music, we read that Joshua immediately carves into stone every word that Moses had commanded (which sounds like a lot of work), then reads every bit of it to ALL of the people, even the little ones. My thought is that Joshua probably did not “feel” like doing all of that right then. I was then reminded of Joshua 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
Joshua’s actions at the end of chapter 8 seem to me to be obedience to God’s command, not a reaction born of feeling. My feelings of disappointment, despair, etc., do not make me feel like rejoicing, praying or reading scripture. But that cannot get in the way of obedience. The Proverbs reading only reiterated this to me. “Blessed are those who keep my ways.” Prov 8:32
God, forgive me for doubting your promises and your perfect plan. Help me to be obedient even when I don’t feel like it. Thank you for the comfort that your word brings to my heart, and thank you for the Holy Spirit revealing truths through that word.
Joshua 8:30-35 30Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, 31as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the Israelites. He built it according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses-an altar of uncut stones, on which no iron tool had been used. On it they offered to the LORD burnt offerings and sacrificed fellowship offerings. 32There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua wrote on stones a copy of the law of Moses. 33All the Israelites, with their elders, officials and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the LORD, facing the Levitical priests who carried it. Both the foreigners living among them and the native-born were there. Half of the people stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of the LORD had formerly commanded when he gave instructions to bless the people of Israel. 34Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law-the blessings and the curses-just as it is written in the Book of the Law. 35There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the foreigners who lived among them.