When Obedience is Painful

When Moses was called by God to speak to Pharaoh, he was afraid. Moses feared that he was unskilled in diplomacy. Moses feared that Pharaoh would not believe him. Perhaps Moses even feared that, were he to try to step in, he would make the situation with Israel in Egypt worse.


But God told Moses that the Lord himself would be with him. God let Moses know that, by God’s mighty hand, the Lord would lead the people out of Egypt. Moses would be God’s instrument, God’s tool in the process.


Now, most of us would assume, were we given this calling from God and these promises of God, that things would go smoothly. We would assume that , since God is with us, our words would be well-received. We would assume that God would make it so that, if we are doing his will, people have stronger, happier, healthier lives. But that was not the case for Moses.


When Moses came to Pharaoh and spoke the word of God to the Egyptian king, Pharaoh lashed out against the Hebrews. If you remember Exodus 5, you will remember that Pharaoh made the slavery of the people far worse. He demanded they go out and scavenge for the straw they needed to make the bricks that were required of them. The work was easily doubled, but the quota was not changed. So, in that moment, the lives of the Hebrews got vastly harder, more painful, more difficult, more deadly; and it was because of Moses’ following of god that this happened.





Exodus 5:20-23 – 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.”

22 Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.”


Look at the response of the people to Moses above. They were not grateful. They were angry. They wanted Moses to leave them alone. He and his message were making them miserable.


Moses himself cried out to the Lord. He wondered why God would have sent him in if all it was going to do would be to make things worse.


But, those who know the whole story will know that God was at work. God would eventually move the people out of the land. God would free the Hebrews from Egypt, establish them as a nation, build them over time, and bring the promised Messiah through them. But, in the day-to-day, they felt a great deal of pain because of Moses’ obedience.


Christians, we need to grasp that our faith is not a pragmatic thing. WE cannot assume that, if we make the right choices, everything will go smoothly. God does not and has never promised that faithfulness in our lives will lead to ease for us or for those who we love. We may cause our families, our friends, or ourselves pain simply by being faithful to God’s word. Because the world is fallen, when we cling to the commands of god, we may find that worldly opportunities are removed from us, that people look down on us, or that even persecution may occur. We must not be shocked by the concept.


Neither should we be discouraged. God is working his will. Whether we experience the success of his mission is irrelevant. What matters is that we trust the Lord, that we obey, and that we know that, in the end, the Lord will accomplish his will for his glory.


So, do not be shocked if your obedience to the Lord does not lead to immediate life success. In fact, do not be shocked if it hurts. But be aware that the Lord is faithful on an eternal scale, and if you serve the Lord, you will find him victorious.