Monday, October 27, 2014

Hardship After Deliverance: Shouldn't the Journey After Deliverance Be Easy?

"Lord, if you have delivered me, then why am I still struggling?" That was the question I humbly laid at His feet the other day and His sweet response stopped me in my tracks.  I have been reading the book of Exodus and studying the life of Moses, specifically the Israelites' deliverance from Egypt, and the Lord showed me a humbling revelation that caused me to stop in my tracks and worship my Creator and changed my outlook on my struggles.  Apparently, I was under the impression that once the Lord delivered me from something that was oppressing me, then everything would be smooth sailing.  I would just coast right on out of that dilemma and wait for the next one. And, in reading about the Israelites, I would have to say that it seems they had a similar mindset.

The Israelites were enslaved in Egypt and mistreated under Pharaoh's rule for 400 years, but the Lord came to their rescue just as He promised.  The Lord sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt.  So, the Lord freed them from their oppression and mistreatment under Pharaoh, then led them away from Pharaoh, and through the Red Sea, safely to the other side with no more threat of Pharaoh and his army to overtake them.  In Exodus 15, Moses leads the Israelites "away from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur.  For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water.  When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter...So the people grumbled against Moses" (15:22-24).  That is just like me!

Like the Israelites, I had been oppressed.  Although my oppression did not result in severe physical harm, I still carried a financial weight that I prayed the Lord would lift off of me and my family. Like the Israelites, the Lord was faithful and rescued me from it.  And, like the Israelites, I thought everything should be smooth sailing once that happened.  I didn't expect to hit any bumps in the road; I mean, the Lord delivered me from my oppression.  Everything would be grand, glorious, and easy, right?!?  The Lord was faithful delivering the Israelites out of slavery, but on their journey out, they hit a few snags.  What was their first reaction?  The same as mine...grumbling!  After the Lord had shown them (me) kindness, faithfulness, love, and provision...we grumbled!  How ungrateful can I be?!?  The Israelites couldn't find water, then when they actually found some water and expected to gain some relief from it, they couldn't drink it because it was bitter.  They also grumbled and complained when they were hungry because they didn't have enough food to eat.  Both times, the Lord was very patient with them, providing a camp near 12 springs of water and raining down manna from heaven!  That's the Lord...He wants to bless us and "do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine," but He wants us to trust Him, to lean on Him wholeheartedly, even when the world's logic says that it's wrong or backward (Ephesians 3:20).

The Lord provided in ways the Israelites never saw coming, in abundant and bountiful ways, just like He wants to do for you and me.  Just like He does in my life.  So, after He delivered me from my weight of oppression and things still weren't smooth, finances were still tight, we were still going to struggle, even in our obedience, I sat down with my Father and humbly asked Him, "if you have delivered me from this weight, then why are we still struggling?"  He whispered the most gentle, patient, and loving answer: "So that you will continue to rely on me."  That response brought the biggest smile to my face and my heart leapt with joy.  That's my Father; He loves me too much to let me go on my own.  He loves me so much that He holds on tightly to me.  He loves me so much and wants to bless me in ways I never see coming, but to do that, I must hold on to Him.  I must "trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding; in all my ways acknowledge him, and he will make my paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6).  That was the answer I got...when things are not easy, it might be a test of my faith.  Will I trust Him completely without relying on my own limited knowledge and common sense, but just boldly walk with Him wherever He leads?