But knowing what God’s will for us is and then doing it should be a way to stay encouraged. Right?

Moses met God in a burning bush and reluctantly obeyed his command to go back to Egypt to rescued the Israelites from four hundred years and more of slavery. Few people have ever had such a clear and direct understanding of what God’s will for their lives was.

What were some of the problems Moses faced? He was at least eighty years of age. His wife was not particularly enamored of his choice to go to Egypt, had not embraced his belief in the God of Israel and saw no need to follow that God’s commands. Moses believed himself to be a poor public speaker and had attempted to use that to get out of having to go to Egypt—a place he’d left forty years earlier after having failed to help his people then, and after having murdered an Egyptian so that he’d become a fugitive, in fear of his life for the past forty years.

When he got to Egypt, he got an audience with the king of Egypt, the Pharaoh, and performed the “signs”, the miracles that God had given him to perform: throwing his staff on the ground so that it became a snake, and putting his hand in his clothing and pulling it out covered with leprosy, and then returning it to his clothing and drawing it out clear of the disease.
The Pharaoh was unimpressed; he refused to allow the Israelites permission to travel and accused them of laziness—so he added to their daily work and made their already miserable lives as slaves even more unbearable.

So. Moses did what God asked him to do. It didn’t work and in fact it made everything worse. Not only was the Pharaoh mad at him, so were the people he had ostensibly come to set free. Certainly not an auspicious beginning to his mission.

God reassured him; told him it would be okay and that it would work out. But it would take a while.

And so it did. He repeatedly made the request to Pharaoh that the people be set free. The Pharaoh repeatedly denied the request. Months, perhaps a year or more passed. Finally the Pharaoh let the people go. So now all was well, right?

They left, but then the Pharaoh changed his mind and sent an army to bring them back. They fled, only to find their way blocked by the Red Sea with no way out—but then God opened the sea and destroyed the army.

Then there was a shortage of food, a shortage of water, the people got tired of eating the same food all the time, there were challenges to Moses’ leadership; the people resorted to idolatry, there were plagues and then when they got to the promised land the people refused to go in, so God sent them to wandering in the wilderness for forty years until everyone of that generation died.

Nothing went the way Moses had expected or hoped—and in fact, he hadn’t wanted to get involved in the first place: he was an old man of eighty; shouldn’t he be retired?

I spend a lot of time in the dark place. There are many aspects of my life that are not going well at the moment and sometimes I feel overwhelmed by it all.

Moses was not alone in such feelings. The Prophet Habakkuk expressed the same unhappiness. After hoping that God would do something to fix the nation of Israel, and after learning from God that his “solution” is to have the nation suffer the destruction of a Babylonian invasion and conquest, the prophet Habakkuk is feeling unhappy and stressed. He concludes his book with a statement—or perhaps a prayer—for when nothing is going right, when everything is going wrong, and there doesn’t look to be anyway out and nothing about your circumstances make sense. This is for when you wonder where God is and why he has apparently forgotten you:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Daniel’s friends faced death in a fiery furnace. They told Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, the following:

“…the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)

Trusting in God, remaining faithful to God and his calling, is not dependent upon His action or inaction. If it is, then we cannot claim honestly to love Him, because love, real love, is not dependent upon the actions of the beloved.

Of course, this is easier said, then done.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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