It’s strange to be thankful for battles, isn’t it? I mean, who wants battles? Aren’t we all hoping for smooth sailing? That is, after all, what we think of when we hear the phrase “Promised Land,” right?
Not necessarily. When the Children of Israel stood waiting to take the Promised Land, they were facing several battles.
I don’t need to ask whether or not you’ve faced battles. We’ve all had them, and here’s the good news: more are on the way. But, Beau,you’re likely asking, how could that possibly be good news?
Joshua 5:1 explains it. This is right after the Children of Israel have built their monument of stones from the Jordan River. The verse begins with the words, “When all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan . . .”
Try to picture it. The Israelites are crossing the Jordan, and it says “all the kings” are standing on the west side. Did you catch that the word “kings” is plural? If there were several kings, they had to have been surrounded by armies of men who were likely brandishing spears and bows and arrows. This is a picture of battlesto come, and it’s the first thing the Children ofIsrael see as they move into the Promised Land. God is saying, I’ve brought you to the place that I promised you, but going through here you’re gonna have a whole lot more battles.
Let’s continue to read: “When they [the kings of the Amorites] heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we were passed over, their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.”
So why would I thank God for battles? Because the battles mean you’re moving in the right direction. Had the Israelites turned around and gone back across the Jordan to the wilderness, they would have faced no battles because nobody wants the wilderness. But when you choose the Promised Land, there will be battles.
Let me say it again: Battles let you know you’re moving in the right direction.
Think about the young mother who has just escaped an abusive relationship. Does she have more battles to come? You’d better believe she does. She will face a battle tomorrow withher finances, and she’ll likely meet a battle the day after that concerning finances. There willbe battles raising that child on her own. She faces battle after battle after battle, but do you see where she’s going? She’s moving in the right direction, determined never to go back to that slavery. She knows she’s got battles ahead, but I want to say to her, please keep moving, keep going, don’t stop.
Consider a man who has been a slave to addiction. Tomorrow he’s got a battle with that same pull of addiction. The day after that, he’ll battle the seduction of that addiction. And the next day, another battle, but he’s moving in the right direction. If he stops battling, he will go back to the chains of slavery. If I could talk to him right now, I’d beg him to keep going.
I think about a couple that were slaves to debt. Although God has delivered them, they face the battles of one tough decision after another. They’ll battle with the temptation to put things on the credit card. It’s a tough battle. It will mean a bunch of Ramen noodles, but going back also means slavery. The battles mean you’re moving in the right direction. Keep going because God’s got a Promised Land waiting for you.
What are the battles you’re facing? Can you see how they are a blessing when you look at them from a perspective of moving toward the abundance waiting for you?
Read more about blessings, battles, and gratitude in my book, Stones of Gratitude.