I’m reading through the Book of Joshua, and I’m surprised at how quickly the entire nation of Israel followed Joshua from one victory to the next. This large nation (moms, dads, kids, possessions, animals) was able to mobilize, fight a city, take possession of the city, regroup and do it again. Over and over again I read, “Then Joshua and all of Israel with him moved on. . . .” (Joshua 10.29-43).
I couldn’t help but try imagining one of our country’s smaller states mobilizing and moving quickly. It wouldn’t happen. There would complete chaos, especially in a stressful situation like war. How did a nation of over 600,000 (and that’s just counting the men able to fight) possibly do this? They moved as one. They moved swiftly. They moved with purpose and without misstep. What had to happen in order for them to perform this seemingly impossible feat. . . . Oh! That’s right! They were sentenced to a 40 year prison sentence in the dessert by the sins of someone else!
As one of the under 20 year olds who did not die in the dessert because of disobedience to God, I would probably have a chip on my shoulder. I would have been mad at the people whose life-sentence I was serving. I would have blamed my days living out of a tent, learning to make breakfast in the sand and carrying all of my possession on my back on all of my relatives that I knew were the cause of my pain. I would have grumbled and pointed fingers and yelled at God for making me fall victim to another person’s mistakes. But what I wouldn’t realize is that the 40 year sentence would prove to be a blessing. That 40 year curse would break me and mold me into a person who would later claim victory after victory.
So my point comes down to this: sometimes we are connected to people (may it be a spouse, parent, sibling, son, relative, co-worker, boss, friend, etc.) whose choices and circumstances have greatly affected our lives. We might be mad at a parent for having an addiction, at a spouse for making bad choices, or a daughter who is born with a handicap; and we want to point our finger at God for our unhappiness. But, if we could see through God’s eyes to the scope of our existence and see the future victory that we can only claim by walking through this struggle, we might gain understanding and be able to let go of some of our pain.
God can do it! He can use our past pains – the baggage brought on by others and ourselves — and use it for our future blessings. We learn skills in the dessert that are imperative if we want victory. The reason why the entire nation of Israel was able to mobilize and move so swiftly from one battle to the next was because they had 40 years of practice. They moved A LOT while living in the dessert. Just read Numbers chapter 33. If they would have known that all the moving around in the dessert would enable them to win the land of milk and honey, they might not have complained. It still wouldn’t have been easy, but at least they would have been able to see the purpose in all the moving around.
But that is the awesome thing about God: He always has a purpose. Everything that happens — whether by choice or circumstance — can be used for His glory and our benefit. He always has a plan for our lives even when we think it’s beyond repair. And He knew exactly what He was doing when He put those people in your life. He knew the parents you were born to, the man you were going to marry and the kids that He would give to you. He knows that their baggage will eventually be your blessing. You just have to have faith that God has always got your back!