Scripture Reading: Exodus 5
What happens when you step out in faith, thinking you’re doing what God wants you to do, but then everything goes wrong?
Don’t give up on God too soon! You might find that you’re still in the center of God’s will―even when everything around you looks worse than ever before.
This happens all the time in the “natural” world. Last summer we hired some guys to fix the broken brick steps that lead up to our house. Within a few days we had a bigger mess than before! The yard was piled with broken bricks and concrete, mounds of sand, bags of cement and stacks of new bricks, not to mention the torn up grass from the backhoe and cement truck. It was a total mess, worse than the one we were trying to fix!
The same thing happened to Moses in Exodus 5, with much more devastating results. He did exactly what God told him to do, asking Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out into the desert for a worship service. The Israelites were thrilled! God had sent a deliverer. But instead of things getting better, things got worse―much worse!
Pharaoh said, “No way!” and ordered the Israelite slaves to continue making the same number of bricks as before, but he’d no longer give them any straw to make the bricks―they would have to find it themselves. The slaves took a beating and they took it out on Moses: “May the Lord look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Now Moses faced a battle on two fronts: a battle of faith and a battle of flesh. Although he probably wanted to fight the battle of the flesh first, saving his people from the physical attack coming against them, he knew which battle he had to fight first. He had to fight for his faith―to keep on believing what God had told him. Had he heard from God or not? Had he done something wrong or not? He knew he had to win the battle for his faith first if he was ever going to win the battle of the flesh.
So he did the best thing any of us can do: he returned to the Lord.
He cried out, “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.” God answered him, telling him he was right on track and to keep moving forward in faith.
While we were in the middle of our own brick project, I faced another situation that was so frustrating that I wrote in my journal, “I’m pulling my hair out! I want to scream!” I was trying to redesign The Ranch website so I could expand it to minister to more people over the Internet. That meant I had to install some new software that I felt God wanted me to use, but I had no idea how to use it. Everything I tried made a bigger mess than before. Instead of making things better, I was making them worse―much worse!
I went outside and looked at the mess in our front yard. I knew that remodeling projects were always like this. When in the middle of it, the mess gets worse before it gets better. I thanked God for the reminder and went back to work.
The website ended up more beautiful and more functional than I could have imagined. Our front steps turned out better than before and the grass began to grow again. These were small victories compared to what Moses finally gained: he was able to set an entire nation free as God had promised.
Just because your steps of faith lead you into worse trouble than before, don’t automatically assume that you’re out of God’s will, or that you’ve done something wrong. Return to the Lord. Fight the battle of faith first, and the victory in the flesh will follow.
Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.