I recently read a great book called The Lion’s Gate. It’s about the Six Day War – when Israel was attacked by several surrounding countries in 1967. One day I was reading in it about a situation where Israeli forces entered an area surrounded by enemy soldiers hidden in trenches. The enemy began firing at their tanks. They were like sitting ducks. Staying where they were meant certain death for those soldiers. They had to move. The orders were given to enter the trenches and attack on foot. It sounds insane to attack on foot, but it was the only option, and the Israelis were able to overcome the enemy and keep advancing.
I had been battling discouragement the day I was reading this and wasn’t sure how to get past it. I was frustrated about still waiting for certain things in my life, not knowing how or when they’re going to happen. Frustrated over what can seem like a never-ending string of disappointments. And because all I could see before me was more of the same, I just began to feel paralyzed and overwhelmed, unable to fight off the looming despair. I began praying and asked God what to do.
His answer to me was “Keep moving forward.”
Now, this is not the answer I wanted! It doesn’t tell me how long I have to keep going. It doesn’t even tell me where to go beyond the next step. But then I remembered what I’d just been reading in The Lion’s Gate. It would have been terrifying to leave the tanks and attack those enemy trenches. But staying in the tanks was only going to get them killed. To achieve victory, they had to move forward. And I realized that moving forward was the only way to avoid being swallowed by fear and despair. And even if I didn’t have any answers beyond the next step, my God is with me and He is guiding me and He can see far beyond what I see. If I will trust Him, then He will lead me to victory.
What is required to keep moving forward? Hope. Hope that things can change. Hope that victory is possible. Hope that the waiting will one day end. Hope is what enables me to take the next step. When I’ve faced another disappointment, it can feel like the hardest thing to keep hoping. But Romans 8:24 says we are “saved by hope.” Why are we saved by hope? Because if we choose not to hope, there is nothing left but despair and destruction. Those Israeli soldiers moved forward out of necessity. They had to choose to hope and believe they could defeat their enemies because the only other alternative was death.
God encouraged me that when I feel surrounded by the enemies of my soul – despair, doubt, fear, bitterness, and whatever else – that the way to achieve victory is to keep moving forward toward Him, to refuse to give up. That day, I chose to hope and to take the next step forward – toward God as opposed to a step of retreat into doubt and unbelief. And as soon as I took that step of faith toward God, He met me. He renewed my strength and filled me once again with joy and confidence. And what had been a very hard point in time for me became a time full of unexpected blessings and new things!
So, if you find yourself overwhelmed by doubt and discouragement, keep moving forward and keep your eyes on the Lord. Do not retreat into bitterness and despair. Keep hoping! And when we do, the Lord will provide for every one of our needs, fill us with the fruit of His Spirit, and move mightily on our behalf. And we will not be ashamed of our hope!