In Joshua chapter 17, the Israelites have boldly moved into their promised land. Joshua, as their leader, had been dividing the land, assigning areas to each of the twelve tribes. The people of Joseph came to Joshua complaining that the area allotted to them was not large enough. They said that they were large in number and still growing because God had blessed them abundantly. Joshua 17:15a (NIV) says “’If you are so numerous,’ Joshua answered, ‘and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there…’” Simple – problem solved.
But that was not good enough for them. They whined again “’The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots…’” (vs. 16-NIV) However, Joshua replied “’You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out.’” [Emphasis mine]
It seems to me that they were acting like spoiled, entitled children. They wanted what they wanted – but they wanted it handed to them on a silver platter. They did not want to put forth the effort to get their hearts desire. But Joshua, very wisely, like a good leader, told them if they wanted it bad enough to go get it. He encouraged them to remember that no matter how bleak it looked, they were stronger than the strong and had the power to get what they wanted.
It can be easy when facing a problem/challenge to get weak in the knees, go to our heavenly Father in prayer and ask for things we are capable of handling on our own. It is no wonder we do not see some of our prayers answered the way we think they should be. God always answers our prayers but the answer is not always “yes”. Sometimes it is “maybe” or “wait” or even “no”. There are always good reasons for each answer. So, when we get frustrated because the answer does not come in the form of a “yes”, we need to take a step back and look at our situation again. Maybe it is something that we are strong enough to handle ourselves. Maybe we do not always need to be leaning on our Father for help. He loves us and wants the best for us but He also wants us to be independent enough to accomplish what we are capable of doing ourselves. Then when we are in a place where we really need Him, we can be assured that He will be there.
Just as our own children can become stronger, smarter and more independent as we allow them to learn to do things themselves without us running to help them every time with every little thing – our heavenly Father can watch us become stronger, smarter and more independent as we step up and handle our lives. He is there to encourage us and for us to lean on, but He is not necessarily there to make every step of our lives easier – especially if it is because we are just too lazy to use our own smarts and our own strength.
Proverbs 24:5 (NLT) says: “The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger.“
If we communicate regularly with Him in prayer, study His life-giving Word, increasing our knowledge, and live our lives accordingly, we can speak to the mountains in our lives and watch them move, instead of always expecting God to do it for us.
Another important factor for success is to increase your faith – which prayer and study will help. But we need to learn to exercise that faith as well. In Matthew 17:14-20 (TPT) a large crowd had approached Jesus and his disciples. A man came forward asking Jesus to heal his son, saying in verse 16: “‘I brought him to your followers, but they weren’t able to heal him.’” Jesus took care of business ordering the demon out and instantly healing the boy. Then in verses 19-20: “Later the disciples came to him privately and asked, ‘Why couldn’t we cast out the demon?’” He told them, ‘It was because of your lack of faith. I promise you, if you have faith inside of you no bigger than the size of a small mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move away from here and go over there,’ and you will see it move! There is nothing you couldn’t do!’”
It is time for Christians to increase in faith and wisdom and grow a backbone – then get things done. It is time for us to realize that we can defeat the Canaanites in our lives. We are stronger than the strong.
Written by Karran Martin – March 11, 2019