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Umm, God - Did I Hear You Right?

Have you ever taken a step of faith into something you felt God has led you to, only to face defeat, failure & disappointment?


Have you ever built up your faith, exuding a hope that is so strong, you are SURE God is going to pull through for you right at that moment, but He doesn't?


Well, buddy, you're not alone.

I have felt this way countless times, and I'd be lying if I said that I don't necessarily feel that I'm experiencing these in this exact moment.


God has asked me to use this time to proclaim His glory, and share His love with as many people as I can. I keep reassuring people that God is going to come through, and we will see His hand in all of this COVID-19 craziness, but victory just seems to be getting farther and farther away.


Truthfully - I'm tired. I'm angry. & I'm sad.



But at the same time, I know God is faithful, and I know this is not the end.


So I press on. Even when I feel the doubt surrounding me.


Let's look at the Israelites in Judges chapter 20.


They were going to war with the Benjamites who were doing horrible, evil things in Israel - such as raping & murdering. Although there was no ruler at the time, the Israelites who formed an army had a fear of the Lord. They had clear knowledge that the acts that were taking place were wrong, even without a tangible law in place.


Before they engaged in war, they sought wisdom from the Lord. God didn't hold them back. He simply chose which tribe was to go out first and gave them the green light.


So, the Israelites obeyed & sent their tribe of Judah to fight the Benjamites.

Spoiler alert: the Israelites lost.


But, didn't God just tell them to go? Didn't God give them the go-ahead? Why would he allow defeat for His obedient soldiers?


Isn't this the way many of us would react? I know I would, because I've had that reaction plenty of times. God, I thought I heard you loud and clear - so why are you allowing this hurt & pain to linger any longer? Why did the situation seem to get worse?


But the Israelites had a different reaction.

 

Judges 20:22-23 says:


"But the Israelites encouraged one another and again took up their positions where they had stationed themselves the first day. The Israelites went up and wept before the Lord until evening and they inquired of the Lord. They said, 'Shall we go up again to fight against the Benjamites, our fellow Israelites?' The Lord answered, 'Go up against them."

 

Let's unpack this, because holy moly is there some good wisdom in just these couple of verses.


1. The first reaction of the Israelites' defeat was to encourage each other.

  • When we, as believers, experience defeat in this world, we need to encourage each other - not turn against each other. We should be encouraging each other to stay in the Word, and turn our eyes to Jesus, not giving in to the lies of the enemy.

  • We shouldn't be responding to negative Facebook posts & slandering the names of our "enemies". Rather, we should be holding fast to the truth of the Word, and using our mouths to profess hope & encouragement.

2. After this, the Israelites wept before the Lord.

  • It's okay to show the Lord how you're feeling. In fact, He wants us to come to Him with our true emotions. He wants to comfort you & to extend His hand to walk with you. Even Jesus wept.

  • If we bottle our emotions, it could backfire. If we aren't honest with ourselves and God, about how we're feeling, we won't acknowledge that we need comfort & we need strength. We can't do this on our own.

3. Then, they inquired of the Lord, again.

  • Okay, so we've shown our emotions - which is good. But, don't stay there too long. In the midst of it, we need to seek God's guidance. Just as a child looks to a parent to guide them & help them through unfamiliar territory, we should look to God, who knows exactly what we need.

  • Our biggest troubles follow when we try to take things into our own hands. Even if we seem to succeed at first, our selfish plans will always backfire. God sees the end from the beginning - so why wouldn't we seek His wisdom before making any sort of decision?

4. The Israelites didn't ask questions after God told them to "go".

  • It's probably a good thing that I wasn't born in biblical times because I don't know how quickly I would have obeyed God here. I mean, think about it, the guy doesn't give any sort of glimmer of hope for them, tells them to just hop into battle, and then they were brutally executed.

  • I probably would have had a few questions for the man upstairs, which is why I admire the Israelites so much. They had no questions. They only had immediate obedience.

So off to war they went, again. Once more, the Benjamites defeat the Israelites.

And, again, they repeat the cycle.


Before the 3rd try, though, God promises that He will give them victory. Interestingly enough, the battle begins and the Israelites continue to experience death and loss.


"But, God, you said we would win! What's going on?!" - Me, as an Israelite, hiding in some bush crying & being dramatic...


However, the promise of God encouraged the Israelites to continue to fight & while the Benjamites began to celebrate another "victory", the Israelites devised a sneak-attack and ended up killing all but 600 men who fled in fear.


The Benjamites initial pride was the very thing that distracted them from the attack that God used to defeat them.


God had it all worked out from the beginning.


I wonder how often God promises us victory, and we run away as soon as we face adversity. I wonder how often we look at "victories" for the enemy as a sure means that God has left our side. I wonder how often we give up right before victory would be ours.


The Israelites held onto their faith, even amidst their losses. They clung to the promise of God, and used it as fuel to fire their battle plan, rather than backing down when things started to look bad.


It may seem as though evil has won this war. It may seem as though we have lost, even after God has told us to stand for His word and to fight for His cause.


But, I promise you - you heard Him right.


He will get the glory. We will see a victory. It may not look like you pictured it, and it may not be resolved as quickly as you'd like - but He promised it, so it's coming. And if you need a reminder of those promises, find them in the Word. Just as the Israelites geared up with the wisdom of God's words, so must we spend time soaking in His promises from the Bible.


What is your response today? Will you stand on God's word and believe that you will see victory even after defeat? Will you choose to believe God's promises over the deceptive illustrations of the world?


"Do not fret because of those who are evil or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away."

-Psalm 37:1-2-


For those of you struggling to hang on to the truth that God's glory will come through, this song has been the foundation of my hardest times. I've sang it through tears, heartache & a crushed spirit, but it has given me hope every single time.


Fight back with worship & praise. Declare the battle won. Keep going. God is still with you & victory will come out of this.



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