Every once in a while, somebody says to me, “I’ve heard you preach on the goodness of God, but I can’t see it in my life. After I was saved, everything got worse, not better.”
Have you ever felt like this?
Perhaps you’ve prayed for a good outcome to a problem, but God didn’t answer. In fact, the situation may have become more difficult than it was before you prayed. Or maybe you claimed a promise in Scripture, but it seems like God hasn’t kept His word.
Would it help you to know that this a common experience in the Christian life?
The problem isn’t with God, but with our understanding. We must be careful not to confuse the Lord’s goodness with our expectations. When we don’t understand what He’s doing, we can still trust who He is.
I think you’ll find the story of Moses helpful as you seek to understand God’s ways. After God spoke to Moses from a burning bush, the reluctant leader obeyed, went to Egypt, and told Pharaoh to let God’s people go. But the outcome wasn’t what he expected.
Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he added to the Hebrews’ workload, increasing their hardship (Exodus 5). God’s promise to free the Israelites was sure, but His means of accomplishing it would not be easy.
We’ve probably all experienced something similar. We obey the Lord, yet trouble and suffering follow. Then we think we’ve done something wrong or accuse God of being unfaithful. Neither reaction is the right solution. Instead, we should look beyond the immediate circumstances.
Realize that God works with a big picture in mind.
Moses may have wondered how increasing the Israelites’ suffering could possibly fit with setting them free, but he knew the Lord’s name was I AM, the One who eternally exists in the past, present, and future (Ex. 3:14).
God’s plans reached far beyond the enslaved Israelites. He told Moses, “Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I extend My hand over Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst” (Ex. 7:5).
Yet even this was not the end of God’s purpose. His ultimate goal was to bring forth a Jewish nation through whom Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer, would come.
God’s people couldn’t foresee all that He had in mind at that time, and neither can we today.
They needed to look beyond the immediate circumstances and trust God to work out the big picture for their ultimate good. So do we. If we’ll trust Him even when we don’t understand what He’s doing, He’ll strengthen our faith.
Trust God to keep His promises.
Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us not to rely on our own understanding, but to trust the Lord with all our hearts. This is exactly what Moses needed to do. He had only the words God spoke to him as a foundation for his trust, but we have the completed written Word of God.
Everything else we possess could vanish, but God’s Word stands forever and will never change. Every promise is guaranteed by Him. They may not be fulfilled as you expect or when you want, but they won’t fail.
Remember that God is the Sovereign of the universe, and everything is within His power.
“The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Ps. 103:19). Pharaoh was a proud king who dominated the Hebrews, but he was no match for the Lord. The demonstration of God’s power over this earthly ruler became known throughout the world. Even today, the Jews still celebrate Passover and their redemption from slavery in Egypt.
The Almighty is also in control of our lives as He accomplishes His perfect will.
Like the Hebrews, who were unable to see God’s redemption until it was completed, we can’t perceive all He’s doing. Yet even in our most painful situations, He’s working for our good (Rom. 8:28).
Know that God is never late with His deliverance.
The Israelites may have wondered why they had to wait 400 years to be rescued. They probably didn’t realize that God used Egypt to grow His nation. They increased from 70 people to a great multitude during those years (Deut. 10:22).
Then at just the right time, the Lord revealed Himself to them and demonstrated His mighty power and love by miraculously delivering them out of Egypt as His chosen people.
This is the same all-powerful God in whom we trust for our salvation.
He has given us His Word, and every promise is sure. We may pray for a long time without receiving an answer and go through challenging and painful circumstances, wondering why God doesn’t rescue us, but He is never late according to His perfect plan.
My prayer is that these truths will help you hold tightly to the Lord as you walk through the storms of life. We haven’t been promised a trouble-free passage, but we’re eternally secure in our Savior who loves us and walks with us through every trying time.
Charles F. Stanley
P.S. Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the women in our lives who have loved and cared for us. Raising children is one of the most influential jobs in the world—teaching the coming generation to know and love God. Thanks to all moms for faithfully serving Him in this way.