When troubles and hardships come, our first reaction is often to panic. As the late Irish biblical scholar Alec Motyer said, “hardships breed a swarm of ‘Why.’” Why me? Why us? Why her? Why them? Why this way? Why this job? Why this relationship? Why does it hurt so much?
The Israelites faced enormous trials during their exodus from Egypt. Instead of going the short way to Canaan, God led them the long way into the Wilderness (Exodus 13:17-18). Within days, they found themselves hemmed in between the Red Sea and the Egyptian army. They looked one way, and all they saw was the deep blue sea. They looked the other, and all they saw was one of the most well-trained, advanced militaries of their time, heading straight for them. (Exodus 14:10)
Their reaction is pure panic, and they turn on their leader. “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you led us out to the wilderness to die?” they complained, “It was better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness (Exodus 14:11-12).” As Wheaton College President, Philip Graham Ryken said, “We decide to follow Christ, but as soon as we start having problems we get scared and go right back to our old ways of coping: anger, addiction, depression, distraction. No matter how much we used to hate it, there was security in the way we used to live; so we return to the same old harmful friendships, the same old sinful attitudes, and the same old nasty habits.”
What the Israelites had failed to realize was that the Lord who led them to that place had not gotten the directions wrong; he had gotten them right. They were right where he wanted them to be. They needed to learn what it meant to trust and be cared for by the LORD Almighty. In this trial, the Lord provided the way out. His almighty hand parted the waters, and the Israelites walked through the deep blue sea on dry land (Exodus 14:21-22).
God does not always provide such a miraculous way out. Yet, through every trial and hardship we face, he can use that crisis to teach us that he can be trusted to care for us and somehow see us through.
Dear reader, are you facing a seemingly insurmountable hardship or trial? Take a moment, take a deep breath, and pray, “Lord, help me to trust you to help me get through this. Amen.”