Authored by Steve Hearts
When God calls us to undertake a quest or venture for Him, we are usually happy to rise to the occasion, excited by the prospect of thrilling, fruit-bearing adventures. We set off with anticipation in our hearts and a song on our lips. But then unforeseen emergencies, or even downright tragedies, present themselves, sometimes without the slightest hint of warning, and our bright day that started out so promising abruptly becomes a dark night.
What should we do when we see little to nothing of the road ahead? The odds which started out in our favor are suddenly against us. This is the moment to choose between defying the odds—pressing on in faith in spite of them—or accepting defeat and turning back. The choice can be even more difficult when there are people expressing feelings of the latter.
Moses was no stranger to this exact scenario. God had performed miracle after miracle to deliver the Israelites from captivity of the Egyptians. They set off on their quest towards the Promised Land with great joy. But more than once, when they met with obstacles and tests, the people turned on Moses, blaming their circumstances on him—and even came close to stoning him and Aaron. So great was Moses’ determination to see the fulfillment of God’s promises that when God Himself wanted to wipe out the Israelites in His anger, Moses interceded on their behalf, which caused God to change His mind.1
Sure, Moses had character weaknesses, which caused God to deny him entrance to the Promised Land. Nevertheless, his reward had to be great upon coming face to face with his Maker. His perseverance and determination serve as an example to us all.
In 1 Samuel 30:1–19, we read of King David and his men returning to Ziklag where they lived, only to find that the Amalekites had invaded the place, set fire to it, and taken captive all the women and the children. Tears were shed, and the people were so distressed over this occurrence that they talked about stoning David. But as the story goes, “David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”2 When he asked the Lord if he should pursue the Amalekites, he was given the go-ahead and the promise that he would “without fail recover all.”3 True to God’s word, all was recovered!
A friend of mine attended a meeting where various Christian church leaders told testimonies of their work. One speaker from South America told of setting out to build a church God had called him to build. At one point in the project, the finances supporting the project were so low that it became difficult to continue. On top of this, there were some unforeseen obstacles that made the pastor question whether they should bother continuing at all. Not only did he question, but so did some members of his congregation. But after seeking God about all the difficulties, God confirmed that He wanted him to see this project through, and like Nehemiah rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, he shouldn’t allow these circumstances to discourage him. So this pastor resolved to follow God, no matter how difficult this project was turning out to be. Soon after that, he received a call from a supporter who had promised to finance the project, but had been putting it off until now. He donated the exact amount needed to complete the project. This pastor concluded his testimony by reminding the listeners that tests and difficulties should not be immediately seen as signs that we are out of God’s will, as we often tend to think.
We may sometimes receive a specific promise of victory from the Lord and then experience an outcome that is so contrary to what we first received that it seems as though God is breaking His word. We were overjoyed when my mother was declared cancer-free, but then she relapsed and passed away soon after, contrary to the many promises given to us and others of healing and deliverance in this life. In light of this, out of genuine concern for my well-being, some of those dearest to me tried to persuade me to take a different path in life. But I knew I was being called by God to be a full-time missionary. So, while continuing to love those around me, I followed my heart and have never regretted it.
If anyone would have been perfectly justified in accepting defeat, it would be Jesus. When He gave his “flesh and blood” talk at the synagogue in Capernaum, not only did the Jews disbelieve, but many of His disciples did as well—and ended up deserting Him. I’m sure this was disheartening for both Him and the twelve that remained. He could have told those who deserted, “I take that back. Let’s just forget that I even said that, and let Me replace it with something that would be easier for you to swallow.” Instead He continued, unperturbed, with His twelve faithful followers.4 Furthermore, consider all the mistreatment He suffered on earth while merely trying to do good. But not even His death on the cross could hold Him down. While His body lay in the tomb, His spirit descended to offer eternal life to the imprisoned spirits.5 Then He rose again, conquering death and hell forever.
We easily lose heart when assailed by setbacks—be they financial difficulties, health problems, the falling through of job opportunities. But when we do so, we fail to see the bigger picture: that we have an awesome and powerful God who is eternally on our side.
Which will you choose to be? A defeat accepter? Or an odds defier?
1 See Exodus 32:1–15
2 1 Samuel 30:6 KJV
3 1 Samuel 30:8 KJV
4 See John 6:51–71
5 See 1 Peter 3:19–20
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2015 by The Family International