Why Great Efforts Stall

Stop doubting and believe.
— John 20:27

Sometimes our failure to "take ground" in our walk with God or our walk for God comes from our inability to believe God and to act on what he says.

The book of Joshua recounts Israel's taking of the Promised Land. When it came to the distribution of territory, Joseph's clan complained that their allotted portion was not big enough.

Was that really the problem?

Then the people of Joseph spoke to Joshua, saying, “Why have you given me but one lot and one portion as an inheritance, although I am a numerous people, since all along the Lord has blessed me?” And Joshua said to them, “If you are a numerous people, go up by yourselves to the forest, and there clear ground for yourselves in the land of the Perizzites and the Rephaim, since the hill country of Ephraim is too narrow for you.”

The real issue seems to be an unwillingness of the people to work hard, but let's look deeper.

The people of Joseph said, “The hill country is not enough for us. Yet all the Canaanites who dwell in the plain have chariots of iron, both those in Beth-shean and its villages and those in the Valley of Jezreel.” Then Joshua said to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, “You are a numerous people and have great power. You shall not have one allotment only, but the hill country shall be yours, for though it is a forest, you shall clear it and possess it to its farthest borders. For you shall drive out the Canaanites, though they have chariots of iron, and though they are strong.” Joshua 17:14-18 ESV

What was the problem?

  • The real issue was not that their portion was too small.
  • The real issue was not that the enemy had iron chariots.
  • The real issue was really not even the unwillingness of Joseph's clan to work hard.
  • The real issue was a lack of faith. God had already promised Israel the land:
No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
— Joshua 1:5 ESV

Joshua's prodding of the people to "go up and clear the ground for yourselves" is really an admonition to believe God.

How easy it is to come up with excuses for why we "cannot" when the real issue might be that we "believe not." God is telling us that our faith matters.

Faith is resting in and acting on the promises of God -- something the people of Israel had failed to do. How about you? Is there a truth of God that you acknowledge as true, but are not living as true?

  • "Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5
  • "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
  • “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7
  • "In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8
  • "And God is able to make all grace about to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may about in every good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8
  • What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31
  • "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
  • "He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength." Isaiah 40:29

Faith believes the promise, rests in the promise, and acts on the promise. Why? Because God is good and God is trustworthy.

They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
— Isaiah 40:31

You are meant to soar. Believe!