I’m sure you’re familiar with the story of Israel’s bondage and deliverance. Moses has made his first appearance because Pharaoh and the response was an intensification of the burden placed on the people. In Exodus 5:22-23, Moses returns to God with questions, nearly accusations. In summary, Moses said, “I did what you said, and things are worse, not better.” God responds with seven amazing promises He had committed Himself to:
- “I will bring you out.”
- “I will rescue you from bondage.”
- “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.”
- “I will take you as My people.”
- “I will be your God.”
- “I will bring you into the land which I swore to give.”
- “I will give it to you as a heritage.”
When Moses relayed God’s message, the people of Israel wouldn’t listen. You can almost hear them- No Moses, we dared to hope things would change and look what happened. It’s worse now. I don’t have the emotional energy to believe anymore. It takes everything I have just to get through each day.
Perhaps we hear them so vividly because we echo them. We sometimes reach the place where, because of the challenges and struggles we face, we no longer hear the promises of God. We bring jaded cynicism with us to worship. We respond to Scripture with doubt and distrust. So how do we get from the place of discouragement to a place of peace and trust?
Remember that Pharaoh determined to set himself in opposition to God’s plan and the freedom of God’s people. We, too, have an enemy who constantly works to frustrate the revealed intentions of God, and who tirelessly works to keep us enslaved, at least emotionally and mentally through discouragement, frustration, and despair.
Remember that God was doing something much bigger than Israel understood. Yes, He was bringing them out of slavery, but He was demonstrating His power over Egypt and their false gods. He was acting out in type, breaking the power of sin over mankind and the finale deliverance Christ would bring. He was revealing to His people truth about His character and His ways. He was teaching them patience and dependence, which is far, far easier said than done. God works in our lives in ways we don’t understand, doing things we haven’t imagined, laying foundations for the future, revealing Himself, teaching us.
Yes, sometimes listening to God is hard, especially when our circumstances fly in the face of His promises. Waiting for Him to act is hard. Not knowing what He’s doing or when He intends to do it is hard. God never denied or minimized the suffering of His people as His plan moved forward. And the time DID come. When the waiting was over, Israel experienced the manifest presence of God and displays of His power in ways that defy description. His words to us are just as certain.