Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 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.”
The Israelites suffered many years and years of unanswered prayers. Sure, God was answering in His time but the Israelites had to wake up each day and endure the cruel work of slavery. They would pray for deliverance and still have to live day after day in misery. They must have thought that God was not listening or worse, He didn’t care about their pain and struggles. Even when Moses came as the deliverer, it got much worse before it got better… so much, that Moses had words with God (Exodus 5:22-23).
For those who had suffered long, God did have a deliverance planned for many, many years later. But that is difficult to appreciate when you are the one praying and waiting… and the circumstances don’t change, except for the worse. One may begin to feel that it really doesn’t matter if he asks the Lord because He won’t answer his prayers. Sadly, that thinking can be the slippery slope of not talking to God at all onto not believing in God at all.
When this thinking bounces around in your thoughts then you must remind yourself of some truths…
Mismatch– God’s ways are not ours.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord , that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:6-9 ESV
When you feel as though God doesn’t hear your prayers, or won’t answer them, or that He doesn’t care, then you need to remember your place. You get the great privilege to know God and talk to God, not the other way around. It is not “Oh lucky God that He gets to hear from me!” You may know what is good, but not what is best. You may know what is right, but not what God is working. You are finite and He is infinite. You are sinful and He is holy. You need Him, He doesn’t need you. Therefore, your place is listening to, waiting on, receiving from, and thanking God.
Means– God uses pain and waiting to develop godly character in us.
And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
Hebrews 11:39-40 ESV
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:7-11 ESV
When you feel stuck in life’s pain or frustration then you must remember: no pain, no gain! We realize this in diet and exercise, sports and skills, academia and achievement. There must be hard work, sacrifice, and discipline to lose weight, build muscle, learn an instrument, master a skill, and excel. It is also true in growing in godliness.
God uses pain, difficulty, frustration, waiting and suffering to grow us. It’s our gym and workout regiment. It’s our scales and practice sessions. It’s our homework and internship. Suffer, hurt, wait equals grow in godliness. Jesus even modeled this for our benefit:
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Hebrews 12:3-4 ESV
In the moments where you feel that you cannot endure anymore, remember Jesus. Remember that God is working His holiness in you and that takes enduring pain, frustration, and waiting.
Motivation– We can either live out of hatred, bitterness, fear, and anger OR love and gratitude.
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
Hebrews 12:12-15 ESV
You may feel that root of bitterness growing in you as you see the wicked prosper or hear only the clank of your prayers hitting the brass heavens. Feelings fuel your thoughts that inflame your feelings that drive you deeper and deeper into depression and despair, anger and isolation. You must stop and consider what is driving you and where it is taking you.
You really don’t want to be bitter and miserable… and most likely, you don’t want to spread that venom to others. The question is, where do we find joy?
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 ESV
Paul knew that rejoicing is a decision and not a feeling. We decide to live in joy and go to God. We pray, seeking God to change our hearts more than our circumstances. Situations may change but it is more important that God influence the way we view our situation. When we see things from God’s perspective then there is peace. God is in control, God has a plan, God has a purpose, and God will one day make things right.
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
1 John 1:1-4 ESV
Jesus is our way to joy. John recounts the words and works of Jesus because He is our salvation and hope. The gospel message brings joy. We need to be reminded of our biggest problem to put all our others struggles in perspective. God has dealt with that in Jesus. The prayers have been heard and the waiting is over- sin, death and hell have been conquered.
Remember that we all deserve death and hell, right now! Jesus did something about that. You are alive and have the opportunity of eternal life in Jesus. Start there and build on that, the many blessings and provisions that God has given. After all, the Israelites did have blessings in Egypt:
Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
Numbers 11:4-6 ESV