6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. 7 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; (Exodus 3)
When God spoke to Moses out of the burning bush at this point in the book of Exodus, the Israelites had spent the last 430 years in harsh treatment as slaves in the Egyptian Empire. Moses, a fugitive living in exile in Midian at that time, was now being called to go back to Egypt and lead his people out of bondage and into the Promised Land. Once God introduced Himself to Moses, The Lord informed him that He had “seen” their affliction and “heard” their cries. And that He “knew” their sorrows. And so it is with us. Whatever pain or suffering or challenges we go through in life, God sees, hears and knows about them. And like the Israelites we should cry to the Lord in prayer asking for His peace and assistance in whatever we are going through.
But notice that even though the Israelites were suffering for so long, it was not until Moses was in Midian for 40 years that God called Him to lead them out of slavery. Several principles can be draw from this gap in time:
1) Moses had to be spiritually ready for God’s purpose. When Moses was younger, living as a prince in Egypt, he knew his destiny from God was to rescue his people from slavery. He was willing to pass up on a life of luxury as an adopted Egyptian son in the royal court to be with his people who were enslaved (“Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. – Hebrews 11). He had prayed for freedom for his people and God answered. However, Moses tried liberating the Israelites his own way, as a vigilante. He saw an Egyptian man harming an Israelite and killed the Egyptian. The Bible tells us: “12And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. “ (Exodus 2) so we know that he was not only committing a crime, he was trying to cover it up. Moses was trying to do things his own way instead of waiting to see what God’s specific plan was. Thus in his 40 years in Midian, he was able to live with Jethro, a godly man and mature spiritually.
So it is too with us. It is possible that God wants to make a major change for the better in our lives. But are you spiritually ready? Will a new job and financial opportunities lead you away from God or to your knees in thanks for the blessings bestowed by the Father? Will a loved one being healed from illness result in less prayer or less concern for making it to church? Will the blessing you ask for inspire you to start working in a ministry in your church? If a blessing we desire will hurt our relationship with God and our worship of Him than it is either not for us or it is not the right time to receive it. Whatever it is we seek in life, we have to make sure it is in line with God’s will and that it will make us stronger and not weaker in the faith. That patience and understanding makes us ready at the time God decides to provide it.
2) The Israelites were now ready for journey to the Promised Land – After 430 years in Egypt, living in harsh conditions, the nation of Israel understood the value of freedom and salvation and were ready to be led to a land “flowing with milk and honey”. Contrary to what many pastors preach today, the Christian life is not always going to be victories, endless success and being a “champion.” It will be full of spiritual challenges, persecution and trials. But in those struggles, we grow to appreciate God’s grace all the more. Becoming born again is being freed from the slavery to sin and death. But there is still a wilderness to travel through before getting to the Promised Land. God knows this which is why He makes sure that everyone is ready for a blessing in their life at the right time, as He sees fit.
So next time you feel like your prayers are not being answered, consider that maybe God is building you up in the faith and strengthening you for the trip to your blessing. And just as He led the Israelites through the wilderness, He too will lead you to a more blessed life in Jesus Christ. So if you are going through a hard time in life keep your faith in God and trust Him. He sees your affliction. He hears your cries. He knows your sorrows. And He will lead you out of them to the blessings He has prepared for you.