I heard about the story of Noah and his ark long before I became a Christian. At that time, Noah was a great hero who saved mankind and the animals from the flood and was remembered by God.
To learn from Noah’s lesson, it’s necessary to clarify how he was used by God in the beginning and yet was caught in sin in his later life.
In Noah’s time the world was full of wickedness and violence, and Noah was the only righteous man in God’s eyes. Even though God planned to destroy the world by flood, He established a covenant with Noah and assured him and his family of their lives.
In the following 120 years, Noah obeyed God’s command and started to build the ark. To build an ark that would house his family and all the male and female animals – not an easy job. It would have taken a tremendous amount of time and huge resources.
While building the ark, he preached to others and hoped they would repent, but no one listened to him.
After he had gone through all the difficulties and I assume loneliness, with great faith and patience, he finally completed the ark. In the end, the flood came and Noah and his family were saved. It could have been a great heroic story, except that Noah became drunk on the wine from his own vineyard, planted after the flood, and was found naked by his son, Ham. Exposure was considered a sin.
Yet, we see how Noah stuck to his faith in difficult times but relaxes his vigilance when life becomes relatively easier. This sadly is repeated in most of us too! We keep alert in hard times but it easily goes wrong when life is easier. And that’s the moment when sin sneaks up. It might be more interesting to compare our situation with tuna fish.
Tuna Fish and shark
When shipping tuna fish to the market, people found that most of the fish died after reaching the destination. Needless to say, they can’t be sold for top price when this happens.
For a long time, people were bewildered by the problem and couldn’t understand the reason behind it. Somehow, a young man thought those fish might be bored in the tank, and suggested putting a shark, the natural enemy of tuna fish, in the tank.
To avoid being eaten by the shark, tuna fish had to swim fast and hard. Even though the shark ate some of the fish, most of them ended up alive and strong.
Shark in our lives
In order to keep us sharp and alert, there are sharks in our lives too! He knows how easily we could sin when there is no threat at all. A shark in our lives might be a difficult task or circumstance not welcomed.
To Abraham, it was to leave his country and go to the place God commanded; to Moses, it was to fight with Pharaoh and lead Israelites' out of Egypt; to Hosea, it was to take back an adulterous wife.
The situations were not what they would have expected in the beginning. Some of them even refused to obey God’s command initially, for the task seemed too challenging and impossible to accomplish. But God encourages them to practice their capability and personality through challenges and uses them for greatness in the end.
Like any father, our Lord loves us unconditionally. But at the same time, He is non-compromising and teaches us strictly. He doesn't want us to lead a passive life and always be drinking milk. Instead, God tends to train us to be courageous warriors through “hardships”. For Christian belief is never about experiencing no pain in life, but enduring and surpassing hard times and ruling over sin.
As God has commanded: we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us. (Roman chapter 5 versus 3-5)
Cheng Xingyi (known as Cindy) was born and brought up in central China. Cindy enjoys travelling and reading history books. Cindy is inspired by talking with local people when travelling abroad experiencing different parts of the world, as well as herself.
Cheng Xingyi's (Cindy) previous articles may be found at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/cindy-cheng.html