The Christian faith seems to be very simple, as long as you "profess your faith with your mouth and believe with your heart". But even if we believe in our hearts in the son of God, who was born, and was crucified for us; even if we accept the miracles he has done, we may still fall and be weak in our faith journey.
A patient who laid between the colonnades besides the pool at Bethesda had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years. Perhaps his youth was wasted because of this disease. Because he was paralyzed, he could not stand and walk like normal people. Even if he lay close to the pool, he was completely immobile. He could only watch as the angels stirred the waters and other people swarming to it for healing.
Many times our life of faith is like this paralysis. Although our physical life is healthy, our spiritual life is paralyzed and we can do nothing. Our weakness makes us powerless, and even make us dislike and hate people around us and hate our surroundings.
What should we do if we are spiritually weak? How do we overcome difficulties and usher in spiritual revival?
The first challenge faced by the people of Israel after leaving the wilderness was to conquer the city of Jericho. It looked very difficult from the outside, because the city was seemingly indestructible. It was a very strong fortress with high and thick walls and tall and strong defenders.
How did they capture the city of Jericho? They followed the words of the Lord and marched around the city for seven days. On the seventh day they blew their trumpets, and the city walls collapsed.
It was not that they went to conquer the city of Jericho themselves, nor that the millions of Israelites went down with them. All that they did was carry the ark of the covenant and walk around the city seven times as God had commanded. Then the city walls collapsed.
This example should challenge us to think whether there is any stubborn sin in our lives, similar to that of Jericho. A sinful nature resides in our hearts and may become a thorn, a stumbling block in our spirit. Or it may be a bad habit that causes harm to ourselves and those around us, but remains very difficult to overcome.
We realize that there is the sinful nature in our lives which is likened to the city of Jericho affecting the Israelites. Our sinful nature obstructs our spiritual growth, keeps us in our weaknesses and at our spiritual low points. We seemingly keep up with the standard of religious practices and struggle to seek God’s word, but our walk with God becomes difficult the moment something activates our sinful nature.
The Israelites also felt weak and afraid when they faced Jericho. They knew that they could not conquer the city by their own power, however, they won the victory through God's power, not by their own strength.
How can we overcome a sin or weakness? Not by ourselves, nor by external circumstances or through others, but by relying on God's word. Too many times we want to overcome by ourselves, in order to prove that we can even do it without God. Ultimately, if we rely on ourselves, we will always fall into sin again. Sin and weakness will continue to disturb us, making us unpredictable.
Sometimes we are anxious and hope that God will listen to our prayer or we can see the results of our actions immediately. When the people of Israel went to conquer the city of Jericho, they went around the city for the first six days, and only on the seventh day the walls collapsed. For real change to take place there needs to be a sustained effort. The walls of Jericho would not have collapsed had they not gone around for six days. It is the same when we fight against sin. We must persevere in seeking God and in prayer. As we continue to pray, we will eventually change, and this change may be very huge.
But when does this change happen? No one knows, only God knows. If we remain in God’s Word, we may not be aware when the change takes place. However, God knows. It is like the miracle at the Cana wedding where Jesus changed water into wine. The servants kept filling the jars with water. They did not know when the water changed into wine, but only Jesus knew. So, when the right quantity is reached, the real change occurs.
The people of Israel still circled the city on the seventh day, and then they obeyed the Lord God andshouted, and finally the city wall collapsed.
The city of Jericho was very large on the surface, but the people inside were promiscuous and lived sinful lives. The nature of sin is similar. Sometimes it is covered by things that make us think that it might not be sin, not so serious, and won’t cause major problems, but sin is contagious like a virus. When we think it is a very small problem and leave it unattended, it will eventually spread and we will suffer the consequences.
We always should examine ourselves to see if there is anything that we need to confess or get rid of, even if it is very small. If we fail to overcome sin and uproot our sinful nature, we will end up "wandering" around the problem, just as the Israelites did when they marched around the wilderness. While we may not discover it immediately, the problem will surface at some point.
Showing weakness is not a terrible thing. What is terrible is that we cannot get away from being trapped in sin. Therefore, we should use God's Word as a rock, as a weapon that enables us to withstand the wind and waves, to help us break the bonds that hold us, to renew our strength and find freedom.
- Translated by Abigail Wu