There are many stories in the Bible that follow a similar theme: A person comes to a critical point in their life, and they decide they are going to trust the Lord. They make their decision, set their resolve, do something that proves they are trusting the Lord… and then everything just seems to get worse. Those of us who can read the whole story in one sitting know how the story is going to end and understand that God is just setting the stage for an even greater miracle before everything is said and done. But imagine being the individual in that story, without the benefit of knowing how it will end and wondering if the Lord forgot about you. Maybe, in some way in your life today, you are that individual!
I was recently reading through Exodus, and a part of Moses’ story that I’d never considered before really stood out to me in this regard. We all know the beginning of Moses’ story – a faithful mother, a royal childhood, his flight into the desert where he took care of sheep for his father-in-law, and finally, the incredible burning bush. Even though God appeared to him in the burning bush and gave him a job to do, it took more convincing and a lot of questioning from Moses before he agreed to go to Pharaoh.
After Moses came and talked to Pharaoh for the first time, he must have assumed that was all that would be required of him – Pharaoh would either agree or disagree, but Moses would have done his duty and would be free to go back to his sheep. Instead, Pharaoh got angry at Moses’ request, the work load of the children of Israel was increased, and they complained to him for interfering. What was going through Moses’ mind at this point? He tried to help, he was obeying God, but he had just made everything worse! Moses went to God whimpering, “Why is it thou hast sent me?” This echoes the thoughts of my own heart at times. “I thought this would be easy. Why does it have to be so hard? Lord, didn’t You say You would take care of this?”
So often, in the life of faith, we can take that first step, and then become defeated when things just seem to get worse. How did the children of Israel feel when marching around Jericho, but nothing happened that first day…or the second…or the third? How did Jarius feel when the Lord said He would come to heal his daughter, only to be interrupted by a woman from the crowd, and then find out they were ‘too late’? How did the apostles feel as they watched Christ’s crucifixion, when they were expecting Him to be crowned as King? I’ve felt this way in my life before too, so it gives me encouragement to remember that we shouldn’t give up when we’ve barely even started!
What Moses didn’t understand, and what I find so hard to remember, is that we are only viewing a very, very tiny slice of the whole pie. God is never in a hurry and views situations so much broader than I do, while also orchestrating them in very specific ways in the hearts of individuals. Have you ever thought about how God can use big situations – like a war or a natural disaster – that are so large and have such far-reaching effects, to accomplish a very specific purpose in one person’s heart? And on the flip side, God can use one person’s seemingly inconsequential decision to affect the lives of many, many people!
In the case of Moses, he had no idea that he would be going before Pharaoh many more times – through the Ten Plagues and Israel’s flight from Egypt. He thought it would be a once-and-done faith operation. Perhaps the faith he needed for that first encounter was all he could summon and he would have just given up if he had known how much would be required of him before it was all said and done! But God had so much more to accomplish than just releasing Israel from Egypt’s grasp. The Lord was developing Moses as a leader, not just to talk to Pharaoh once and disappear back into the desert, but to be Israel’s leader for years to come. God was working in Aaron, in Pharaoh, in Miriam, and in many more unnamed people that we don’t even know about! What Moses expected to be a single trumpet blast, God intended to be a symphony with far-reaching effects for generations to come.
Why do I so easily get discouraged when the way is harder than I expected? The faith that I held to start this journey and make this decision can be grown by God into everything it needs to be. I can rest assured that He has all the parts and timing of this worked out. I just need to watch for my cue and stay faithful in my post. He doesn’t expect me to worry about anything other than what I should be doing right this moment. The rest can be left in His very capable hands.
Stay faithful in the things that God has shown you to do. They may seem small, or they may seem so large and out of your comfort zone, but He will reward your faithfulness, even if you have a hard time seeing it now.