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.
But 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.
Beyond 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.