Have you ever noticed that God seems to like taking the long way through some of our difficulties? Of course we prefer to have our difficulties dealt with and behind us but our God prefers to use those difficulties for his glory. He can rescue us immediately from our financial situation but sometimes he provides for us in it before bringing us out of it. He can heal us immediately but sometimes he delays that healing, sustaining us in the illness before bringing full healing. My question has always been: Why?
I was never satisfied with some people's answers that God is sovereign and he knows best. Neither was I satisfied with the answer that we created the mess so God was letting us work it out. First of all the Word tells me that we have the mind of Christ which means we can now understand the mysteries of God. Second, our God is a God of compassion, mercy and grace. He does not hold our sins against a repentant heart and he loves to rescue his children. No, I knew the answer was much deeper than those excuses.
Then one day I was reading through the account of God's rescue of his children from Egypt and I understood. God could have chosen to rescue his children in one day but he drew it out, using various plagues and making it dramatic. He made this event something to remember so the nations would know his glory but also so that moment would be etched into the history of this new nation. Generation after generation would look back at this moment and be encouraged in remembering who their God is.
God establishes road markers of faith in our lives so that we will remember his glory every time we look back at those moments.Think about it for a moment? What are the most vivid memories you have. Are they the beautiful sunny days that were peaceful or the dramatic days full of adventure. My family camped all the time when I was a child and the only trips I remember are the ones filled with misadventures because those misadventures etched the moment into my memories. I remember the trips when it rained so hard and our tent leaked remember later years when my little brother rolled over and fell out of the tent trailer in the middle of the night. I remember many such things and I remember them with fondness.
I also remember, in my adult life, not being able to have children for six years. It was a dramatic time in my marriage and I remember the moment that my wife at that time knelt before the Lord and surrendered the family into his hands. I remember the next month when she was pregnant. I remember the birth of that child. I remember the praise we heaped upon our God. I remember his glory.
I remember not having any income while in my first church. I remember the feeling of eating the last meal. I remember kneeling in prayer for my family. I remember pouring all of my trust into God and facing the day with a heart of thanksgiving. I remember the sound of the doorbell. I remember my friends and the huge box of food and supplies they were holding. I remember the story of how God moved their hearts that morning to empty their cupboards for us, including dog food and diapers. I remember the hugs, the tears and the praise to our God. I remember his glory.
Our lives are filled with similar road markers of faith, trust and God's glory. He sometimes leads us through this "valley of the shadow of death" but we never fear evil because he is with us; his "rod and staff" comfort us. Our God takes us through those routes so our faith will increase and his glory will be revealed. We need those road markers because we have wandering hearts. We are very unfaithful to our God. We are distracted easily, we are complainers, always looking for the easy route and often times disobedient. We need these markers to remember our God, his sovereignty, his compassion and grace. We need to remember his power to save us, even rescue us at times. We need to remember that, even when we deserve our just desserts, Jesus loves us and has made us overcomers.
There is a wonderful passage in Romans that reminds us that we are in a relationship that is all about increasing us and bringing us into a place of maturity. I share it with you in the hope you will ponder its meaning today and will rejoice that our God knows what he is doing, and reveals it to us, giving us road markers to remember the moments of his grace:
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:1-4)