When we’re on the brink, does disaster always follow? Or can something wonderful happen? If everything around us looks bleak, can we feel anything but worry or fear? Or can we be filled with a calm assurance?
Moms raising kids with mental illness (MI) have teetered on the edge of disaster… times when we’ve stood by helplessly watching our child lose control or hope. Some have witnessed their typically placid child suddenly lash out in violence. Others have seen their normally exuberant child shrivel up in despair.
Is it possible to face an uncertain future with optimism? When healing and restoration seem impossible, can we remain hopeful? There’s a man in the Bible who shows us that it IS possible.
Joshua and the children of Israel faced an insurmountable obstacle—the Jordan River. How would they cross that body of water? God instructed Joshua to, “Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river’” (Joshua 3:8).
God had commanded that the priests literally take a step in faith and stand. They had to trust that the One who created the seas would reveal His mighty power over that river.
It wasn’t like when the Red Sea blocked the way. In that case, God’s people took their first step on dry land.
With Pharaoh’s army fast approaching, God separated the Red Sea and provided a way of escape. God’s people didn’t have to step into the water. Moses lifted his staff and the Red Sea opened. They first witnessed the miracle of divided water before they took their first step.
But, Joshua’s priests literally stood on the brink of deep waters. God asked them to move ahead in faith, without first witnessing a miracle. Could they trust God to provide a way out? Or would fear of drowning prevent them from moving ahead?
What did they choose as they stood on the brink? Fear or faith?
Joshua 3:15-16 provides the account:
“It was the harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks. But as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water above that point began backing up a great distance away at a town called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the town of Jericho” (NLT).
They took a step in faith and stood in the turbulent water. And God was instantly faithful to His people. He dried up the Jordan so they could cross.
Are you struggling with that choice as you stand on the brink? Do you wonder if you can take a step of faith and stand, without fear of drowning in sorrows?
Our Good Shepherd of Psalm 23 is still in the business of providing and guiding. He calls us to dip our toes in His oasis of care. When we’re thirsty for relief, the psalmist reminds us to, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).
Dictionary.com defines “on the brink” as “a crucial or critical point, especially of a situation or state beyond which success or catastrophe occurs.” Success or catastrophe. Why does God take us to a crucial point where we anticipate some sort of extraordinary ending? Joshua’s story helps us understand God’s purposes.
“For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God” (Joshua 4:23-24).
There’s the answer: “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful…” He takes us to the brink so that everyone might know the Lord’s is powerful. He gives us tangible reminders of His power. So that we’ll remember His power is greater than all our troubles.
I love the psalmist’s prayer about being on the brink:
“God, you did everything you promised, and I’m thanking you with all my heart. You pulled me from the brink of death, my feet from the cliff-edge of doom. Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life” [Psalm 56:12-13 (MSG)].
May you enjoy your stroll with God today.