I can imagine Moses was the subject of much scorn and derision from his fellow Israelites. While the rest of his nation suffered under cruel taskmasters as slaves, Moses was pampered by a princess, raised in the house of the king, and educated at the finest schools in the land.
Moses had it easy compared to the rest of the Jewish people. Frankly, Christians in America today have it much easier than most believers around the world.
Globally, Christians face opposition and persecution far beyond anything we have ever experienced. In China, North Korea, and Syria, believers risk their lives to follow Christ and build His church. I’m always a little embarrassed when I hear Christians in America complain about “persecution,” knowing that our brothers and sisters around the world truly suffer by identifying as followers of Christ.
Don’t misunderstand, even American Christians are facing new and unique trials—in our personal lives, careers, and culture. While it may have appeared like Moses avoided all the persecution Pharaoh had in store for the Israelites, he suffered in unique ways while estranged from his nation. God also had some specific trials prepared in advance for Moses.
In any generation, and in the life of every believer, our trials—no matter how great or how small—are designed by God for good reason. Just as God had a lesson for Moses to learn through difficulty, God wants us to learn this lesson as well. God not only has plans for us that include suffering, He promises to develop us—and sustain us—while suffering.
You might be familiar enough with the biography of Moses to allow me to fast-forward the tape of his testimony. Many years after fleeing Egypt, he had an encounter with God at the burning bush. After he got over the shock of hearing an intelligible voice coming from a bush on fire, Moses received a task from God that might not sound so difficult to us, but it was unimaginably difficult for Moses.
God commands him to go back to Egypt, speak to the Pharaoh, and demand that the Israelites be allowed to leave and return to their promised land.
Keep in mind that Moses has a speech impediment, he is terrified to speak in public—much less to the king—and he’s being asked by God to return to a land that wants him dead. The land he had deserted 40 years earlier.
The first example of God sustaining Moses in this trial was the permission to bring his younger brother, Aaron, with him to do the speaking on his behalf.
Moses and Aaron return to Egypt and prepare to deliver this stunning demand to Pharaoh. And to say their appointment went badly would be an understatement. It went horribly!
Not only does Pharaoh refuse their request, he retaliates by making the Israelites’ task even more difficult. They are now forced to gather their own straw to make bricks, rather than having the straw brought to them, while maintaining the same quota!
Have you ever been in a difficult situation where God’s assignment asked impossible things? Yet you stepped out in faith, only to have things go horribly wrong?
Frankly, there’s nothing more discouraging than following God, only to experience greater troubles after stepping forward in obedience. I’m certain that Moses expected a red-carpet treatment and for Pharaoh to agree to his demand. But now, Moses is wondering if God is in control after all.
Little does Moses know, God has him exactly where He wants him to be in order to learn the lesson He wants him—and us—to learn.
Moses brings all his frustrations to God, and God answers with two statements that will sustain us as well when we face various trials.
Moses asks God “Why did you ever send me?” (Exodus 5:22). That seems like a fair question; after all, Moses did everything God asked him to do, and his people were further punished as a result.
But God responds to Moses, “I am the Lord” (Exodus 6:2).
This answer doesn’t reveal a step-by-step plan of what God is doing, but it does reorient Moses’ perspective back to a right understanding of God’s divine identity.
Beloved, a right understanding of who God is changes our attitude toward what God allows. I’ve learned in my years of following the Lord that it’s hard to be anxious about the cares of the world when you truly believe that God is sovereign, that He is all-powerful, that He is in control.
When we understand who God is and give Him the place of priority He deserves in our lives, we can turn our trials over to Him, trusting that His ways are better than ours.
Moses isn’t quite satisfied with this first answer, so he asks another question, “How will Pharaoh listen to me?” (Exodus 6:12).
In His answer, God doesn’t tell Moses anything he will do, but seven times He tells Moses, “I will…”
The root of our problems is not that we have trials; it’s that we question God during our trials. We wonder what we can do to fix them; we scheme and plan and try to do things our own way. But God is saying, “When I say I will do something, you can consider it as good as done.”
God will do exactly what He wills in us and through us, and there is no trial in our lives that is outside the will of God. That’s why the afflictions we face produce a life of wisdom.
Whenever a difficult circumstance enters our lives, God reminds us:
- “I am”—He is the God of eternity who has established His divine purposes for our lives;
- “I will”—God will not fail us, nor abandon us but will continue guiding our ship toward the harbor of His eternal purposes and plans.