God explained that the man was to push against the massive rock with all his might every single day. The man was determined to be obedient. So year after year he toiled from sunup to sundown, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, hard surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his power.
Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out — worried if his whole day had been spent in vain. Neighbors laughed as they watched him deplete all of his energy trying to budge the enormous object.
Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, God’s enemy, the Devil, decided to enter the picture. The exhausted man could not shake the voice in his head that kept saying, “You have been pushing against this rock for years and it hasn’t even budged! Why are you killing yourself over this? You are never going to move it! Just give up!”
Discouraged and disheartened, the man started to feel he was a failure and his task was impossible. He reasoned to himself, “Why am I killing myself over this? Why shouldn’t I just give this a minimum effort? That should be good enough.”
The next morning the man rose from his bed, prepared to put in the very minimum. Before he walked out the door, however, he decided to stop and pray.
“Almighty God in the heavens, I have labored long and hard in your service. I have used all my strength to do your will. And yet, I have not budged that mountainous rock a fraction of an inch! What am I doing wrong? Why am I failing at this?”
A soft voice from heaven said compassionately, “When you agreed to serve me I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your might and this you have done. Not once did I mention I expected you to move it. Your only task was to push with all your strength. You did that.
“And now you come to me thinking you have failed. But look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewed and brown. Your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard.
“Through opposition and ridicule you have grown inside and out. Your abilities now surpass those which you used to have. Yet you haven’t moved the rock. This was never about the rock. Your work was to be obedient — to exercise your faith and to trust in my wisdom. This you have done. When you had doubts, you called out to me. I am pleased.”
Suddenly, the rock disappeared.
The lesson? We may be looking in one direction, while God is helping us in another. Not all mountains are made to be moved. Obstacles or trials can bring out the best in us if we do not give up or give in to discouragement. The real question is, do we trust God to know what He is doing?
1Peter 5:8-11 informs us, “Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. But take your stand against him, solid in the faith, knowing that the same things in the way of sufferings are being accomplished in the entire association of your brothers in the world.
“But, after you have suffered a little while, the God of all undeserved kindness, who called you to his everlasting glory in union with Christ, will himself finish your training, he will make you firm, he will make you strong.” — New World Translation.
The prophet Jeremiah was a good example of someone who felt he did not have the strength to keep going in the face of mountain-like obstacles. He had to preach an unpopular message to a rebellious people who rejected and persecuted him. Discouraged, he didn’t think he could go on. But not so.
At Jeremiah 20:7, the prophet admitted, “You tricked me, LORD, and I was really fooled.” — Contemporary English Version. Why did Jeremiah say this?
In verse 9, Jeremiah confessed, “Sometimes I tell myself not to think about you, LORD, or even mention your name. But your message burns in my heart and bones, and I cannot keep silent.”
Jeremiah did not expect this. If he was able to accomplish what he could not have done on his own, we can surely understand why Jeremiah felt “fooled.”
As servants of God, we realize if we allow ourselves to be guided by Him, whatever obstacles we face can produce outstanding qualities in us, especially if we keep doing our best. It is this type of faith that Jesus said can move mountains, at Matthew 17:20.
We cannot give up or give in to discouragement. We cannot listen to ridicule or self-doubts. Faith that God knows what He is doing and will do what He knows is best for us will produce obedient servants who can move mountains-like obstacles with God’s help.
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