Jericho still believed in the power and purpose of God forty years after they first heard He parted the Red Sea for His people. That's tough.
What's even tougher? Israel still believed in their God after four hundred years.
And not just once.
When I say "four hundred years," you might first start thinking about their captivity in Egypt, which would be a good place to start. But there were also somewhere around 400 years between the end of our Old Testament and the start of our New Testament.
Four hundred years between the last authoritative word of the prophets and the birth of the promised Messiah. Then, Jesus shows up, and everyone is like, Could this be Him?
Let me be honest with you: there are times when God has answered my prayer, answered His promise in my life, within a matter of weeks, sometimes even days, and here I am, wondering if that's Him or not. Questioning whether that's the answer. Unsure about whether this is really the holy thing I've been waiting on or not.
Convinced, if we're being confessional here, that it's probably not.
I just have a hard time believing God for a long time. The longer I have to believe, the less it seems that I do. The more I have to trust that that thing He talked about is still happening, the easier it is to convince myself that it's not. Oh, I still believe it might be, but not in my lifetime. I start to conceptualize in my head all of the contorted ways that He might still fulfill that promise through me, even if I don't actually see it in my own life.
I think a lot of us do these kinds of mental gymnastics. Heart gymnastics. It's hard for us to hold on to hope for very long at all. It's hard for us to keep believing that God is still working when we can't see that happening right in front of our faces.
We know in our hearts that it's a journey that ought to take less than two weeks. We know that. So when that third week comes, we start to reconsider things. Certainly, by the end of the first year. Definitely by the end of the second.
We can't fathom what four hundred years even feels like. To put that in perspective, four hundred years ago, America didn't exist as a nation. Not even as a colony. We were right on the edge of Jamestown, if my memory of history serves me right. There was no internet, no cell phones, no television. No radio. How about this one? The King James Bible was just starting to be printed. And not for everyone.
Think about that. Think about how much the world has changed in the past 400 years. Then, think about how God's people were so convinced about what God was doing that despite four hundred years of change, they still looked at a little baby in Bethlehem, at a carpenter's son on the streets of Galilee, and whispered among themselves, Could this be Him?
I'm telling you - I want that kind of faith.