No-win situations or difficult circumstances always beset my favorite character on Bonanza, Little Joe. Bonanza was about the Cartwright clan who lived the old west. Center to the drama were the three brothers: Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe. Adam, the oldest, was always cool-headed, wise, and persuasive. Hoss was the middle brother—big, brawny, and a heart of gold. Little Joe was the youngest, the scrapper, the underdog.
I have found myself a fan of another underdog named Joe, my father in law. Lately, my father in law, always the scrapper too, has been ill. Some days are good, and he’s winning the war to breathe. Some days are bad, and he seems to be losing. Between my mother in law, me, my husband, and my sister in law, we have been taking turns helping and supporting him. On his own, he gets tired, weak, and depressed as his strength and control ebb from him. As we gather around him, he gains energy, strength, and encouragement to persevere.
During my quiet time, God reminded me of another battle that was impossible to win by man’s effort alone—the battle at Rephidim. The Israelites were weary and worn out from the journey out of Egypt. The Amalekites had cut the stragglers (women, elderly, the sick, and children) off in the middle of the column. The Israelites were surrounded. (Deuteronomy 25:17) Moses told Joshua to take men and go and fight. Moses would stand at the top of the hill with the staff of God in his hands. As Joshua went to down to the battle, Moses took Aaron, Hur and the staff of God to the top of the hill. (Exodus 17: 8 – 10)
It says in Exodus 17: 10 – 13 that “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword."
Others were needed to support Moses’ hands so that he could continue to uphold the staff of God. If his hands fell down, the Israelites began losing. If they were up, the Israelites began winning. Outnumbered, lines divided, and in unfamiliar territory, the Israelites, from a military perspective, had no logical chance to win. However, what won the battle was not the arm holders, Moses, or Joshua’s military genius it was God.
My father in law, however scrappy he may be, still remains the little guy in this case. Two weeks ago, he entered hospice care. Most people who enter hospice care don’t come out on the other side—they go to the other side. Outside observers and medical professionals would say Joe may do the same.
Here’s deal. It’s not up to me, the doctors, or the hospice care nurse to determine if Joe will make it. It’s God. The same God who intervened thousands of years ago for the Israelites will intervene here. God is sovereign and in control of this outcome. Joe’s hands are supported by his family and friends. We continue to raise them in prayer to the mighty God of the universe who saves.
Despite the odds, Joe is making a comeback. Little by little, he makes progress. In fact, at yesterday’s doctor’s visit, the doctor was “pleasantly surprised” that Joe was doing so well. So well in fact that the doctor told my mother in law, “Keep doing whatever it is that you are doing.”
So that is our prayer and our praise. Father God, Thank you that you are healing Joe. We speak your words of truth and life over him, Lord. We trust and have faith that you will unchain him from the physical bondage of COPD. Continue to amaze the modern world and baffle modern medicine with your miraculous power. Continue to use weak, unlikely souls to declare your glory. For it is not us hand holders who are making a difference in Joe’s health, it is you. Strengthen and heal your servant Joe for your glory.
In Jesus Name, Amen….Amen….Amen
For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. (Deuteronomy 20: 4)
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:5, 57:18)
Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. (Matthew 15:30)
For nothing is impossible with God (Luke 10:37)
I can do everything through him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27)
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40: 30 – 31)