Have you ever done what God asks but then everything seems to get worse? That’s one of those experiences that can really try one’s faith. I was reading in Exodus the other day and I realized that Moses is no stranger to this, but I have the vantage point of seeing the whole plan of God unfold, beyond that part where things really go south quick.
Remember when Moses had that amazingly faith-building talk with the the Holy One right before he and his brother Aaron went to the elders of Israel for the first time?
“Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped” (Exodus 5:29-31).
It had been a long time since any of them had heard from God, and now they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was about to do something to alleviate their misery. Moses and Aaron must have felt pretty empowered as only one can, when they’ve just had a word from God.
Has this happened to you? You will be reading along in His Word when all of a sudden, it is as if the words are only for you, speaking into your spirit for your life at this moment in time. It’s as if a portal between heaven and earth is opened and you are right there with The Holy One. Some people experience this through music worship and they know it is not merely that the music is stirring their soul – they know that they are meeting with God. If you have not experienced this kind of heaven on earth, where God speaks to you ‘face to face as a man speaks to a friend (Exodus 33:11), ask God now to come to you this way. And so He speaks and you obey.
Moses and Aaron know by personal experience that their God, the God above all others, is on their side. Or maybe it is that they realize that they are on God’s side. And now they go with God’s plan to speak to pharaoh – arguably the most important , feared, and influential man in the land, considered a god by the Egyptians – with an emboldened war cry: “Let God’s people Go”.
And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness (Exodus 5:1).
These are the mountaintop experiences are they not? The pinnacle moments of one’s faith. No one can touch me now, God is with me. I know I am on the right track. Nothing can stop me. The thing for which I have prayed has been answered and I am moving forward in real faith, not just that fake-it-’till-you’-make-it kind that, if we are honest, gets us squeaking by most of the time. It is time to act, and I do it. It was time for Moses and Aaron to act and they do it.
But then, after doing what God says to do, the unexpected happens. Nothing goes as it was assumed it would. And in fact, things get worse. Confusion sets in. Pharaoh gives a new order as a direct result of Moses and Aaron’s speech to him.
“You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota” (Exodus 5:7-8).
We can imagine how Moses must have felt in this moment and in the moments after the Israelite leaders blame him for their increased work load. We can imagine because we’ve been there ourselves, when what we do for God seems to backfire and make things worse.
Has God given you a promise, asked you to act upon it, but then things seem to be worse for having done it? I call that the storm before the calm. When what seems to me to be unanswered prayers because of how circumstances look, I keep asking – pestering, like the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8 when she keeps hounding the unrighteous judge. But I wonder….at what point will I stop ‘asking that he will’ and start ‘thanking that He is’.
I think that’s where Moses and Aaron were. They had to make a decision whether they would trust God to the end, despite what they saw, despite the fear that looking at current circumstances would have brought. We know the end of the story in Exodus. We know the victory, the calm. But for that space of time they did not. It is, I believe, in those moments like that where we have to really solidify in our minds whether God is trustworthy or not. When things look worse is not the time to give up and it is not the time to keep praying for that which He has already said He will do. Maybe this is the time we thank Him for it. Even if we can’t see it coming to fruition. Maybe this is the time to recount the faithfulness of God to His other Promises. If you don’t have enough personal experiences where things get worse and then get better, maybe this is the time to mine the riches of the Word for all the other examples where He shows Himself faithful to that which He promised and we already have the evidence that He brought it to pass.
GOD IS ALWAYS FAITHFUL TO BRING ABOUT THAT WHICH HE PROMISED.
Hebrews 10: 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised