Setting Sun

The sun sank low on the horizon beyond the hill out behind our house. As the blazing orange orb melted into the distance, red, pink and purple clouds seemed to ascend into a deepening blue sky in a way that would have made the most skilled of artists weep. As I paused to behold the glorious display, a story that I’d recently read in the book of Joshua came to mind.

A lesser known miracle recorded in chapter 10 occurs during Israel’s battle with the Amorites. The writer of Joshua tells us that five kings of the surrounding area planned to attack the Gibeonites because they had signed a treaty with Israel.  (vs 1-3) Coming to the defense of their new ally, Joshua and the Israelite army executed a surprise attack on the camp of their common enemies.  (vs 7-9)

In verse 8, God assured Joshua of the outcome by saying “Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you.”  Not surprisingly, Israel handily beat the Amorites and drove them from the city. But, as the Israelite army pursued the Amorites to seal their victory, the sun began to set. Seeing this, Joshua prayed a bold prayer… “Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” (vs 12)

And the amazing thing is… the sun stood still in the sky!  (vs 13-14)

You know, I love that story because it’s a dramatic picture of our miracle-working God responding to bold prayers of faith that are centered on His promises.

evening-sky-414687_640But as I stood there in the overgrown grass surrounding our house observing that evening’s sunset, it occurred to me that sometimes… maybe a lot of times… believers trust, pray and believe as best as they know how, and the sun doesn’t stop in the sky. Even while clinging to the last scrap of faith, daylight disappears and is soon replaced by the long shadows of night.

It’s difficult to find answers that satisfy during times when our desires go unfulfilled, our prayers appear to be unanswered, and hope and confidence seem hard to find. I won’t attempt to gloss over real pain and frustration with fluffy platitudes and easy fix-all solutions that do little to repair dreams that are dashed into pieces on the ground.

What I will say is this…

You can still trust God.

That doesn’t mean that if you hang on long enough, you always get what you are hoping for, because the reality of our fallen world is that sometimes the miracles don’t come on our timetable. Or don’t look like we thought they would when they finally arrive. But no matter what happens, our trust should never be placed in our external circumstances. We must anchor our hope in God who by His very nature is trustworthy.

cross-211989_640Beyond any doubt the Lord has already proven His love and care for you in a tangible and concrete way. Romans 5:8 says it like this. “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” You don’t have to lean on warm feelings, nor on skewed assessments of what in our view seems to be the best outcome. The cross is an objective and enduring exhibition of the love of God. On that, you can place your full trust without question.

I do not know why some miracles come in such grand fashion, nor do I understand why so many times the sun silently sinks away.

What I do know is that even when the light retreats and night falls with its all-encompassing blackness, you can still believe in the unending love and compassion of our God. And when the sun does set, and disappointment settles over you like an evening mist, you can still choose to hang onto your trust in Him.  And…  when, in the face of sorrow and heartbreak, you do remain faithful, perhaps it’s then the Lord will set ablaze His greatest miracle deep within your heart that will ultimately shine brighter than the sun.

Your sun will never set again,
    and your moon will wane no more;
the Lord will be your everlasting light,
    and your days of sorrow will end.
Isaiah 60:20

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20 thoughts on “Setting Sun

  1. Yes and AMEN! We can still trust in God! Isn’t that just a wonderful thing?! Such a revelation to dwell on the fact that we can trust God and that He has everything under control.

    Thanks for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop.

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

  2. Karen, I am thankful God placed me right next to you in the #Reflect link-up. I am feeling blessed – Like, goosebumpily-blessed! Such a beautiful post and because I have currently been teaching from Joshua in our Elementary-aged ministry, it really touched me. My favorite quote? This one:
    And… when, in the face of sorrow and heartbreak, you do remain faithful, perhaps it’s then the Lord will set ablaze His greatest miracle deep within your heart that will ultimately shine brighter than the sun.
    Amen, Amen, and Amen!
    Blessings and smiles,
    Lori

    1. Thanks Lori! I’m glad you were encouraged! I feel like God really spoke to me while I watched that sunset! I definitely think that what God does IN us is way greater than anything He ever tangibly gives us.

  3. It is so hard to trust in God sometimes when you don’t see results but I always think that just as your child doesn’t always understand your decision as a parent God has our best interests at heart. Visiting from Missional Women.

    1. Definitely the relationship between child and parent teaches us alot about our relationship with the Lord. Glad to have you stop by Rebecca

  4. I can’t imagine having the faith that Joshua did to ask the sun to stand still. It wouldn’t even have occurred to me!

    I really like this sentence: “the Lord has already proven His love and care for you in a tangible and concrete way.” My confidence in His character does not have to depend on God answering my prayer today.

    your neighbor at Lyli’s link up

    1. I know, right? Who would think to ask for the impossible? But then in the NT, Jesus promises us that “with God, all things are possible!” Thanks for reading, Constance!

  5. What an absolutely beautiful post! Your insights were so encouraging.

    I love the literal word picture of your statement, “The cross is an objective and enduring exhibition of the love of God. On that, you can place your full trust without question.” What a beautiful thing to reflect upon when doubts may creep in.

    I also loved the closing verse you shared from Isaiah. What a perfect summary of all that you conveyed in your post. 🙂

    1. I love that verse too, Karen. We have to be so careful to not be motivated by feelings but by observable objective fact. He already proved His love, we don’t have to wonder about that any more! Thanks for reading!

  6. Nicely done Karen. Always enjoy reading your insight into God’s Word. Your thoughts reminded me of praying for patience, “God I need patience, and I need it now!” I sometimes believe our prayers, our desires for answers, become merely wishes. We use Jesus’ name as a ‘hocus pocus’ way of getting results. When we pray, the answer has already been given from heaven. We just need to receive it!

    1. Thanks Mel! I think you’re right in that most people think of prayers as wishes. Prayer is always about aligning ourselves with God instead of the other way around.

  7. I love when you are not only theologically solid but humanly honest. No matter what happens, we must stand on, “God is Good. Period.” Because that will be hard to believe sometimes. We can fumble a lot of correct theology when our world is turned upside down if we don’t stand firmly on that truth. Yes, we CAN trust God. No matter what. He IS good. We focus on the next few days, but He sees eternity future. He is setting up things to happen 100 years from now. Our perspective is limited, but we CAN trust Him even when life doesn’t make sense. He knows what He is doing and….. He really loves us.

    1. It’s that simple truth – God is good – that helps us hang on when we’re disappointed… and, consequently, it the one truth the enemy will use all his power to cause us to doubt. If we can just learn to hang onto what we know when what we feel and see conflicts, then we’ll be able to better weather storms and still be standing when the sun comes up the next day. Thanks, Rachel

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