“I was pretty sure I understood what God was asking me to do. I was obedient. I took the next steps…but now I’m wondering if I got it all wrong. Instead of things going right they seem to be getting worse!”
Sound familiar? We think we understand what God is asking of us, but the further we go down that road the bumpier it gets. We start to wonder…to question…to doubt…and maybe even conclude we missed it. The clearness of the initial message gets cloudy and somehow lost in the realities of life…some of them quite difficult.
There is a principle found in chapter 5 of Exodus that might help our perspective. Moses heard correctly. He knew what he was supposed to do, and he did it. At first things went well…the Israelite leaders listened and believed. So far so good! With that affirmation energizing him, he was off to the next victory… presenting his request to Pharaoh and watching God grant his request.
Didn’t happen. In fact things got ugly rather quickly. Pharaoh didn’t just refuse; he actually decided to punish them for even asking. It definitely went from bad to worse! So Moses came back to God with a series of questions and doubts. “You made a promise God…what happened?”
You may have been there…or might be there right now. You thought you heard correctly, you obeyed the best you knew…but the seeming promise has not been fulfilled. What happened?
One of the things that happened is the principle we can draw out of Exodus 5 and 6. We can call it the principle of fulfillment and judgment. It seems that quite often God is working out a carefully balanced plan involving both fulfillments…the promises he has made for the good of his people, and judgment…the promises he has made for those who disobey.
Moses, Aaron and the Israelite leaders were totally focused on the promise God had made to them. When that was not the immediate outcome, they began to question. But God had another side to the whole scenario. He was also bringing judgment on those who had exploited his people. Early on in the process, the Egyptians saw things as going well for them, and Israel saw just the opposite. But the process was not done. God was balancing the promise of victory for Israel and the promise of judgment for Egypt.
As it turns out, we don’t usually know all the players in our scenarios with God. We don’t know whom he is intending to bless with his promises of victory and whom he may be judging because of their disobedience. So when we see things only from our personal perspective, we can easily conclude that we didn’t hear God correctly or that he just isn’t that interested in our situation. But there is always a larger perspective…the other side, so to speak…what God is orchestrating in the larger scheme of things for the proper fulfillment of his promises of direction for us, and what he is orchestrating to bring his judgment where necessary.
Take heart! God’s perspective is from a little higher vantage point than ours. He can see the whole picture at once, so trusting his timing is probably more productive than relying on our own!