My life has been filled with highs. I look back and remember all the sunshine that has shone bright in my life. The thing is in order to appreciate the sunshine you have to have some rain. My greatest moments have come after going through some great hardships. There were plenty of times that I wanted to throw in the towel, just hang my head and walk home. Luckily I’m a history buff and all throughout history there are stories of great achievements coming after being in a dark bleak place. Two stories have frequently come to mind for me recently, one biblical and one I first learned about in a movie from my youth.
In the beginning of the Book of Joshua, Joshua had the unenviable task of taking over for the great leader Moses. Not only that but to get to the Promised Land he had to lead the Israelites over the Jordan River which was in flood which was a problem. They didn’t have any boats to cross so it was a bigger problem. Then to pile it on across the river a band of rivals were already waiting just itching to pick apart the Israelites because the only way they could possibly cross would be in small groups. God spoke to Joshua and told him to Fear Not but to be strong and Courageous for he was with him as long as he obeyed God’s commandments and focused in on his word. The Jordan receded and they walked across, all of em. As long as Joshua and the Israelites obeyed God they won. The times they lost under Joshua was when they doubted or disobeyed they got whooped. The battle of Ai should have been easy but because the sin of one man the Israelites lost. They beat them the second time by being obedient. In fact as long as they did what God told them to do they won. When they let fear or disobedience creep in they took the L.
The Israelites didn’t get the full of their promised inheritance under Joshua because they couldn’t stay courageous and follow what they were supposed to do. The Israelites really had no alternatives. Sure they could always turn back but back there was the wilderness that they wandered through for 40 years but they weren’t too keen on that. Beyond that when looking back was being slaves to the Egyptians. They already got punished for saying they should just go back to Egypt so surely they wouldn’t be foolish enough to want to go back there even if it was familiar. No familiar may be what you know but there is no way you can grow if you stick with the familiar.
Just put your faith in God, be strong and courageous and do everything you are supposed to do no matter what it looks like. No matter how scary or bleak the situation looks. This year there were so many times where I was in the midst of a rock and a hard place. There were many times where it looked better to just turn back and go back to what I knew go back to what was easy. You can’t get to the promised land doing what is easy. So when the trials and hardships come you have to keep pressing forward.
I had to look at it like the Greek Mercenaries after the Battle of Cunaxa. In 401 B.C. Cyrus the Younger of Persia decided he wanted to usurp power from his brother Arsace. Cyrus found some of the best Greek Mercenaries to beef up his army. These were certified killers. The Warriors, one of my favorite movies as a child, was based on the Battle of Cunaxa and the fallout.
The Greeks knew how to war, these guys were expert fighters. We all heard about the 300 Spartans and the Battle of Marathon. The Greeks knew how to fight and they knew how to strategize. The Greeks had a thing about being outflanked so they took the position by the sea. Unfortunately this meant that Cyrus was closer to the middle. The Greek mercenaries held up their end and beat back every unit they came against barely losing a warrior but it didn’t matter because Cyrus was dead. The Greeks weren’t going to be paid worse off their leaders got tricked into attending a banquet where they were killed and the mercenaries were blocked from their ships. At that moment life for the Greek mercenaries could not have sucked more. No leaders and no way to sail back to Greece. Xenophon was one of the men elected as leader and he had a dilemma: they had no access to food, no safe haven, just enemies and a long arduous march to get home. Every time they advanced more fighting.
They just moved into enemy territory fighting every step up the way. They had to do this for 2 hard years. This was definitely not the road trip they signed up for. Life couldn’t get much worse but they kept pushing forward and after surviving every battle they got even stronger and even more emboldened. The mercenaries did finally make it back home. That’s what I love about this story, the fact no matter what they just kept fighting their way back home. No matter how many times they were pushed back, outflanked or outgunned they kept moving. You have to keep pushing, fighting , swinging for your goals no matter how many times you have to pick yourself back up.