Over the course of the last few weeks we have looked at these ideas that many of us have experienced at one point or another – God’s answers look different than what we were expecting, God seems late, or He doesn’t look like he’s providing. There were many people throughout Scripture that thought the same thing, or could have experienced the same questions of, “God, where are you?” or “God, why are you doing this?” like we experience today.
We looked at the story of Lazarus and how Mary and Martha prayed for days that their brother would be healed and live. Unfortunately he passed from his illness, and Jesus showed up four days after he had already been buried. To them it looked like Jesus showed up late, but in fact he was there to do a greater work than what they were expecting. Jesus exceeded all expectations they had, their faith went deeper than ever before, and many Jews came to a saving knowledge of Him through it.
There’s another story that comes to my mind when thinking through the idea of God not making sense, and that is the story of when Moses and Israel crossed the Red Sea. I’ll summarize the story, but I would encourage you to read the account for yourself in Exodus 14.
Moses was used by God to deliver the 10 plagues on Egypt as Pharaoh continuously told him no to releasing the children of Israel. Eventually as things continued to get worse and worse, Pharaoh relented, and Israel was free. Somewhere along the journey to the promised land, though, Pharaoh changed his mind and said in verse 5 of chapter 14, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us.” And he gathered his armies to go get the nation back.
Around this time, Israel made it to the Red Sea where God ultimately told them to wait. This is where it seems that God showed up late, at least to Israel, because Egypt was hot on their heels. Verse 10 says, “When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly…” If you were to pull out a map and look at the journey that Israel took from Egypt and where they currently sat at the border of the Red Sea, you would find that there was nowhere for them to go. They thought to themselves, “Why would God bring us here, there’s nowhere to go!?”
In fact, verse 11 shows us their exact response. “They said to Moses, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?’” They were wondering why God would free them, just for them to die in another location. We can’t judge them too harshly though, because we tend to think this way too. We receive a blessing from God and then as soon as the next hard time comes, we throw our hands in the air and challenge God as to what he was doing from the beginning. But what they failed to remember, and what we need to remember, is that if we just wait on Him and trust in His plan, that He’ll take care of us.
See, God had a plan through the whole thing. It wasn’t necessarily about Israel, and it wasn’t necessarily about Egypt, and it wasn’t about Moses. It was about Him. It was about God showing as many people as possible the power that He had, and that He truly was God. Note verse 17 and 31.
Exodus 14:17a-18 – “…I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
Exodus 31 – “Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”
God wanted glory, but he also wanted to show multiple nations that He was all powerful and He was the One true and living God. If He would have provided boats to cross, or an alternate path, they would have gotten what they needed, but they still wouldn’t have known God on a deeper level. This was the way that it needed to be, and He just asked them to trust Him.
God is asking you to do the same. You may feel like you’re at the edge of the “Red Sea,” so to speak, where you see where you’re supposed to go, but no way to get there. When you turn around you see nothing but the enemy (lack of finances, loss of job, health concerns, etc.) bearing down on you. You feel like God is telling you two different things, but trust in Him. Hold on to the fact that He will deliver you, and wait on Him, knowing that He is working something for your good and His glory.