20 They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; 21 and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
Does doing the right thing always lead to easy circumstances in life? No way. No matter how many people assume that doing good will always and without fail lead to easier lives, it simply is neither true nor biblical. Certainly, in the eternal picture, doing what honors God will be rewarded. But it is simply not wise to assume that a set of hardships is a sure sign that the one experiencing those hardships is outside the will of God.
Let’s take Moses’ experience in Exodus 5 as a brief example. Moses did what God said. HE went to Pharaoh and asked for his people to be let go for a 3 day journey into the wilderness to worship God. The Pharaoh, as God said, refused to let the people Go.
What Moses may not have expected is that the Pharaoh had some interesting reasoning to add to the mix. Pharaoh basically assumed that, if the Israelites have time to wander off and have a 3 day worship rally, they clearly have too much free time on their hands. So, the best thing that Pharaoh could think to do was to double their workload and make their enslavement very harsh.
The words we read in the Scripture verses above are the words of God’s people speaking to Moses after their meeting with Pharaoh. They look at this man of God who did what God told him to do, and they can’t stand him. “You! You are the cause of all this! You are the one making trouble for us! Just leave us alone and we’ll be fine. We don’t need your help if all it is going to get us is extra work and harsher beatings.”
Did it work out in the end? Of course it did. We all know that God used Moses to lead the enslaved Hebrews out of Egypt. Moses was vindicated in his lifetime. But make no mistake about it, that vindication was not immediate. Moses suffered under the horrible burden of knowing that his work looked, for a time, like a failure. The people were turning their backs on him. The Pharaoh was making the work worse for the people. Everything seemed to be failing and falling apart.
Yet, God was in control. Sometimes God will take us through times like Moses went through. Sometimes life will look like it is falling apart around us. WE cannot assume that this is a sign of God’s judgment. Sometimes God, as our good shepherd, leads us through the valley of the shadow of death for his glory (Psalm 23:4). Sometimes darkness seems to reign before the light breaks through.
Christians, if you are in a tough situation, be careful what you assume. Do not necessarily assume that your circumstances are the result of God’s disfavor. Perhaps your circumstances are bad because God is trying to get your attention, but then again, maybe not. What you must do is what we will see Moses do. You cry out to God. You constantly go back to his commands (for you that is the Bible and not a burning bush experience). You do what you know God has revealed is his will. And sometimes you suffer through the pain for the glory of your Lord. HE will set things right in time or in eternity. Trust him, and do not let present hardships totally steer your thinking.
[You might also want to read my post on this passage from last year, as it apparently got my attention a year ago too. That post has a link to an excellent sermon on the topic that I once heard in the SBTS chapel (wow, I linked it here too).]