How to Persevere Through Hopelessness

by Lysa TerKeurst

I am a planner. A problem-solver. So when I bring my struggles to the Lord in prayer, I also tend to bring my carefully thought-out ideas and suggestions He can choose from.

Here’s what I think will work, Lord. I just need You to sign off on one of these, OK?

But the longer I walk with Him, the more I’m discovering that simply isn’t the way God works. His ways? They aren’t our ways. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Today, I want to introduce you to an Old Testament friend who has something to teach us about God’s ways: Joshua.

In the sixth chapter of the book of Joshua, we find Joshua and the Israelites experiencing a problem of epic proportions. There was a massive wall preventing them from moving forward into their promised land. I’m sure there was no shortage of ideas or opinions on how they should tackle the wall, but God didn’t ask anyone for their opinion. Not even Joshua, Israel’s leader.

Instead, God asked for His people’s complete and unwavering obedience. Obedience in the face of a battle plan that would make no sense to their rational minds. A plan that actually involved no “battle” whatsoever.

All God wanted them to do was march. For six days straight, they were to march around the walls of Jericho. Then, on the seventh day of marching, they were to end with trumpet blasts and a great shout. God declared this mighty sound would bring the walls down. (Joshua 6:5)

What moves me most about the Israelites’ part in this story isn’t so much their willingness to take that first step of obedience. It’s how they kept taking steps of obedience. Step after step after step. Even though nothing appeared to change … even though there wasn’t a single sign of cracking or crumbling in those massive walls … they kept marching.

What if they’d stopped after day two? Or day three? Or even day six?

Think of all they would have missed. They would have cheated themselves out of certain victory from God.

I don’t say any of this casually — as if it’s easy to keep going with God’s instructions when there’s no evidence of our situation changing. It’s hard to continue marching when we don’t see God move the way we thought He would. It’s sometimes difficult to trust He’s working behind the scenes.

So what do we do when He asks us to move in ways that don’t make sense to us? How do we keep “marching” when the situation still looks hopeless?

We make the same choice the Israelites made. We choose to walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7) We take God at His word and hold fiercely to His promises. (Hebrews 10:23)

God had promised Joshua that He would deliver Jericho, its king and its army into Israel’s hands. (Joshua 6:2) And that is exactly what He did.

The victory of God’s people never hinged on their ability or any of their well-thought-out plans. It was solely dependent on their unwavering obedience offered to a loving and mighty God.

I don’t know what steps of obedience God is currently calling you to take that don’t make sense to you. But let me be the gentle whisper in your ear encouraging you to keep going. Keep trusting. Keep taking step after step after obedient step.

We don’t have to understand the “why” of God’s ways. But we do have to keep choosing to follow them.

Let’s not stop short of our victory with God. He is working things out. He is present. His plan is still good, and He can still be trusted. These are certainties even when life feels so very uncertain.

Lord, I confess that at times my heart feels discouraged when I don’t see immediate results from my steps of obedience. Thank You for reminding me that just because I can’t see You moving doesn’t mean You aren’t. Please help me as I walk by faith, not sight. Day after day. Step by step. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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