In the beginning of Exodus we see a relationship being formed with a God who sees, God calling Moses to follow Him as a leader to influence people, and Moses' journey leading Israelites to a land of milk and honey.
God delivers Israelites from Babylon with a bang- huge plagues- leading up until even the first son of Pharaoh is killed. Miraculous signs are done and the Israelites know that God is with them. In fact God says I will lead you by myself by a cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night and I will never leave you. It sounds so easy- just following the cloud- and yet this journey is not what the Israelites expected. It is difficult, long, at times food is short, there are many unexpected obstacles.
We arrive at Exodus 13:17 and find an exhausted Moses and tired, grumpy Israelites. These people have followed God so far, seeking deliverance from captivity, and trying to abide to His laws. And yet we see God leading the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea. Their journey could have been much shorter but God chose to lead them on a further route so the Israelites would not face war and return to Egypt.
So this is where I want to stop and think a little bit because through the Exodus story God is showing us that at times we too may have to journey through the desert. In other words, even though we are following Christ, there are times when we are going to feel lost- maybe even abandoned, distraught, alone, unprepared, hungry.
Have you ever felt like you followed God completely just to hit a huge standstill, problem, or conflict you never imagined. And it frustrated you so much because you thought God clearly you called me to this so where are you now? Where are you now when I'm failing at what you've asked me to do? Why did you call me to this if you aren't going to help me succeed?
Multiple times in Exodus we see the Israelites crying out to God "Did you call us here so we could die?" I would have rather been a slave than me starving and wondering around like a lost soul.
And we may find that we ourselves are quick to blame God as soon as things start to go wrong. Why God why didn't you deliver me from this trial when I have prayed about it or asked you to do so?
But the thing about Exodus is if you take just one part of the story- often things don't make sense. Like why would God let the Israelites be hungry? Maybe so that they could trust in Him to provide manna? Why did He lead them around the long way? So that they wouldn't have to fight in an extra war that might discourage them. Why did it take so long? Maybe so God could establish faith and perseverance teaching the people...
Likewise our life often things may not make sense to us because we cannot see the whole picture. We are quick to forget how God has led us in the past. We do not see His plans for us in the future. We do not see our influence on others. We cannot comprehend how choices and events will affect our own character development or how we will learn to have faith in God.
We will never understand why God lets some bad things happen in the world and why He stops others, why bad things happen to good people, or why we have to go through struggles when we're only trying to follow God's will for our life. But just like the Israelites, each of us is on a journey to one place and that is Heaven a land of milk and honey. Ultimately, it shouldn't matter to us what happens on this earth as long as we get to the Promised Land.
I believe that there will be a desert (or deserts) that believers in God must walk through in order to be redefined into someone who represents the loving image of God. But the amazing promise we have from God is that in the desert or in the mountain, He is with us. Even when we don't feel God, even when we don't see His blessings, I believe that He is working for our good and right by our side if we let Him.