The wall at Jericho was an impenetrable force
to any army that was trying to overtake the city. Before even dealing with the wall, the
attacking troops would have to navigate their way across a 27 foot wide, 9 foot deep pit
that lined the outer edges of the city. Then, there was the wall itself, a 17 foot high,
5 foot thick pure mass of solid stone. If the attacking army managed to get this far
without being shot down by archers, all that was left was to defeat the well-trained Canaanite
army that was waiting within. This was the reality for a young leader named
Joshua and his ragtag Israelite army. These Israelites, who had seen an entire generation
live and die while wandering through the desert, were tired, hungry, and facing what seemed
like an impossible task, a hopeless situation. Now, I haven’t lived very long, but I’ve lived
long enough to know this: that running into walls is a part of life, and the bigger the
wall, the more hopeless the situation can seem. The large walls of sickness, loss, divorce,
addiction, they pop up all around us, and they seem impenetrable. And just like the
wall at Jericho, these walls rarely stand alone. The walls of our lives are often accompanied
by a deep pit of pain, suffering, and despair, and all the while, an army of hopelessness
attacks us on every side. The question is asked all the time, if God loves us so much
and is so powerful, then how could He allow these walls to pop up around me? Now, I don’t
pretend to have the answer to any of those questions, nor do I pretend to understand
just how deep or dark your suffering has been. I simply want to suggest that maybe God does
His best work from seemingly hopeless situations. When I read the Bible, I read about people
and characters, all who faced seemingly hopeless situations. In fact, I cannot find a single
person who walked faithfully with God without first facing a hopeless situation.
Adam and Eve ruined Paradise by inviting sin and death into a perfect world – a hopeless
case. Joseph was betrayed by his brothers for his
pride and put in prison – a hopeless case. Moses was cornered on the banks of the Red
Sea with the most powerful army in the world breathing down his neck – a hopeless case.
Gideon was three hundred against three hundred thousand.
David stood across the valley from a blood-thirsty giant.
Esther was a woman trying to gain a word with a prideful king.
Daniel’s roommate was a lion. His friends were thrown in an oven.
Jonah sucked at his job and got stuck in a whale.
Peter was a coward. Paul was imprisoned.
The five thousand had no food. Lazarus was dead.
Timothy was too young. Abraham was too old.
The youngest son was too stupid. The walls of Jericho were too strong.
And Jesus was humiliated, hung on a cross, and buried in a tomb, burying all hopes of
the revolution that was hoped for for thousands of years.
Now everybody was ready to close the book on these stories, the end, game over. But
if there’s one thing we learn from the Scriptures, it’s that we can never place a period where
God has placed a comma, because when all other options have been worn out, when circumstances
couldn’t get worse, when everything else has failed, get ready, because that is exactly
where God shows up. Because Joseph became second in command.
The Red Sea parted. Gideon won without lifting a weapon.
Goliath’s head was on a plate. Esther spoke and the king listened.
Daniel tamed the lion. The oven felt like room temperature.
Nineveh repented. Peter became the rock.
Paul rejoiced. Twelve basket-fulls were left over.
Lazarus was just kidding. Timothy built a church.
Abraham built a family. The youngest son came home to a party.
The walls of Jericho came a-tumblin’ down! And Jesus Christ pulled off the resurrection,
defeating sin and death and the creation that had been marred so many years ago was now
restored for all time! With God, what seems like a hopeless situation
is not only possible, it’s favorable, because only God can turn a mess into a message. Only
God can turn a trial into a triumph, a test into a testimony, and a victim into a victory.
His power is made perfect in weakness, so let us rejoice in our trials and hold unswervingly
to the hope we profess, because He who promised is faithful, was faithful, and will always
be faithful, no matter how hopeless the situation.