I’ve often wondered about the dying thoughts of those Israelites who still believed in the Abrahamic promise after decades of witnessing their people oppressed as slaves in Egypt. They heard the stories of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. They knew about El Shaddai and His covenants with each of their forefathers [Genesis 17:1-14, Genesis 26:3-5, Genesis 28:12-15]. They were part of the fulfilment of Abraham’s promised descendants, but I suspect that some began to doubt the prospect of living as free persons in their own country as years of slavery turned into decades. I can imagine that first enslaved generation possessing defiant hope, but what was it like for subsequent generations born into slavery and raised by parents whose parents died never experiencing freedom?
A similar situation recurred about a millennium and a half later to the same people as they waited for the promised Messiah. Once more, they were under an oppressive regime – the Roman Empire – the fourth of such a regime to limit their sovereignty in the Promised Land. Several generations spent centuries waiting under varying degrees of oppression. I suspect many of them despaired. I can imagine a few eyes rolling whenever someone mentioned a promised Messiah, ending their sighs and sorrows [Isaiah 35:10, 51:11]. I also suspect that unbelief and cynicism grew when God was silent for about 400 years after the prophecies of Malachi.
These are some of the macro narratives in the Bible. However, embedded in the history of God’s people are untold stories of individuals like you and me who had to deal with challenging situations. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that there’s nothing new under the sun [Ecclesiastes 1:9]. That means whatever each of us is going through, we aren’t the first to experience it. Greats like Moses and Elijah asked God to take their lives as they were overwhelmed by difficult circumstances [Numbers 11:15, 1 Kings 19:4]. Even Paul, the great apostle, thought he wouldn’t survive some of the desperate challenges he went through [2 Corinthians 1:8]. So, I’m convinced some of the unnamed faithful in biblical times went through marital issues, miscarriages, financial woes, ill health, depression, quarrelsome bosses, unbearable in-laws, and so on.
In one sense, that’s good news because it means we can learn from the successes and failures of those who went before us [Romans 15:4]. Like us, in their desperate moments, I believe these men and women thought: “Where is this God I hear so much about? Does He care about what I’m going through?” I can imagine them also asking those questions many of us struggle to voice in our desperation, especially in Christian circles. One of the reasons I love Jesus is because He’s a personal God. He knows and loves me! He holds the universe together and possesses all authority in heaven and earth [Matthew 28:18, Colossians 1:16]. Yet, He simultaneously knows all the intimate details of every life on this planet, including those we’re unaware of [Psalm 139:1-18], even though there are billions of us on earth.
Last Sunday, I heard this profound statement: “Destiny overrides circumstance”. As I pondered it, I realised that when God says: “I have a plan for you…” [Jeremiah 29:11], every circumstance we encounter which isn’t part of that plan is transient unless we blatantly reject God’s plan for us. That means as long as our experience is contrary to God’s word – which is His will for us, we can confidently expect things to change. Such conviction isn’t wishful thinking but the very definition of faith [Hebrews 11:1]. We’re guaranteed to please God when we unwaveringly believe, based on God’s word, that there’s nothing He can’t fix, no situation He can’t change, irrespective of what things look like presently [Hebrews 11:6]. Such faith provokes a positive response from heaven.
Irredeemable is a common sentiment in our human experience. We may not say the word, but we often imply the mindset in situations eminently beyond our control. There’s an inclination to think that way if we’ve never witnessed a hopeless situation completely transformed or fixed. Before Jesus, the Apostles had never seen the miracles captured in the Gospels, nor could they envision themselves as miracle workers. They believed death was final and irreversible. However, I suspect that after Easter Sunday, the phrase: ”with God, nothing is impossible…” took on a different meaning [Matthew 19:26]. The Resurrection was paradigm-shifting. It gave those who believed the boldness to confront and overcome situations contrary to God’s word, even when brutally persecuted [Romans 8:35, 2 Corinthians 2:14].
The faith of those first disciples is our heritage. Therefore, our mindset should be: “If God raised Jesus from the dead, what can’t He do?”. As such, the more hopeless a situation, the more excited we should be about the possibility of God’s intervention because the weight of a testimony often corresponds to the desperation which birthed it. The Apostles weren’t flustered by any situation after the Resurrection because they knew every circumstance was redeemable when God was in the equation. Many believers died holding fast to that mindset, and as we look back at their stories, we can testify that their faith wasn’t in vain [Hebrews 11:32-40].
We’re all susceptible to doubt when we focus on our circumstances more than the power and love of God. Nevertheless, every celebration of the Resurrection is a reminder of the greatest miracle in human history that stands as unequivocal proof that God keeps His word. The tomb is empty, and Jesus is alive today, reigning over all things [Ephesians 1:17-21]. So, if men or the devil say your situation is hopeless, find out what God says about it. Then hold on, especially when it’s darkest because God cannot lie [Numbers 23:19]. As a preacher once said: “If your faith says ‘yes’, God will not say ‘no’”.