By SUSAN E. RICHARDSON
“Moses returned to the LORD and said, ‘O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all,’” (Exodus 5:22-23).
Obedience is hard enough when we can see immediate positive results from doing what the Lord asks. What happens when we obey, but our obedience seems to make things worse? Moses had that problem when he obeyed God and confronted Pharaoh. Not only did Pharaoh not listen, but he also forced the Israelites to make bricks without straw.
We have the advantage of knowing the end of the story. Eventually Pharaoh listened and the Israelites went free. We don’t often consider how the people in the story felt when they didn’t know the ending. Following God must have looked foolish at best.
Moses confronted Pharaoh several times. Each time Pharaoh seemed to win, while Moses walked away in failure. I’ve experienced this, too. I’ve done what God asked, waited for Him to act, and but saw nothing change.
Why does God direct and then not open the path? When I chose to leave a previous job, I prayed about the decision and consulted with people familiar with Christian retail about my future plans. At the time, I’d spent 16 years in the Christian industry, both as a retailer and as a writer. Those who knew my background and abilities encouraged me to move ahead with consulting for churches that wanted to open stores. Early responses were encouraging, but in the end no opportunities opened for me.
Had I misheard Him? Was He unfaithful in directing me? Finally I realized that the Lord gave me a second opportunity to choose well where I’d failed before. I had the chance to make better choices in a new situation.
So I had to choose. Do I turn away again? Do I turn my back on God, fearing to trust Him? Or do I keep moving ahead, trusting blindly against the evidence I can see?
The decision wasn’t an easy one. The Lord used His timing to build my faith. I had trouble deciding to trust when everything in me was screaming, “No, it’s not going to work!” I had to allow the Lord to overrule that inner voice. He asked that I learn to walk by faith, not by sight, even though He never chose to open that specific door.
The Lord doesn’t ask us to wait for no reason. His reasons are more complex than any of us can understand. The bottom line is that when we face a situation where obedience seems to make the situation worse, we have a choice: turn back or trust.
Somehow we’ve come to believe that trusting means having perfect peace about everything, but that isn’t true. Trust is something we do, not something we feel. We act according to trust and find comfort through other means. We can trust even while overwhelmed with pain and in need of comfort.
When we act in spite of the challenge, we choose to trust. We don’t deny the effort required nor do we rely on emotions. The feelings that go with trust grow as we practice acting on faith. It’s a tough, trudging-through-the-muck perseverance that refuses to quit.
What kinds of trust are you practicing? Make a list of ways you’re choosing to do the right thing and making healthy choices that reflect trust, even when feeling overwhelmed.
If you’ve never considered practical things as a form of trust, think about what you could do that demonstrates your decision to trust despite what you feel. Sometimes just getting out of bed in the morning counts. So does taking a walk or doing some gardening instead of staying in alone. As you go further into your journey, your feelings will begin to fall in line with your choices.
Even when nothing makes sense to us, God is working to bring us healing and wholeness. His final goal for us is freedom, just as it was for the Israelites.
Lord, choosing trust when we don’t comprehend is hard. We know we can’t do this alone. Please, show us how to choose trust. Help us trust through our choices and our actions even when we don’t understand what You are doing.