"Lord, why have you brought trouble upon us?" Moses asked. "Is this why you sent me?"
Earlier, he had requested that God send someone else to speak to Pharaoh (Exodus 4:13). But God had insisted that Moses was the right man for the mission. Now, after having obediently asked Pharaoh to release the Jewish people, Moses found the situation for his enslaved brothers had become even worse.
"Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name," Moses complained, "he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all!" (5:23).
You can sense the anger and disappointment in Moses' words. God had told Moses that He would deliver the people of Israel from Pharaoh and bring them safely into the Promised Land. He had called to Moses from the burning bush and had revealed His name to him: "I AM WHO I AM" (3:14).* He had even performed miracles for Moses: turning his staff into a snake, and back into a staff again, and making his hand leprous, and then healing it.
Moses knew that God was all-powerful, so why wasn't God using His power to free the Jewish people? Why was He allowing the situation to become more difficult, painful, and unjust?
In essence, God had already given Moses the answer to these questions before Moses spoke to Pharaoh. In Exodus 4:21 God had instructed Moses to perform before Pharaoh all the wonders that He had given him the power to do. Then He had added, "But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go."
Although this seems to contradict what God had promised Moses, Exodus 3:19,20 explains the final outcome: "The king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go." In 4:22 God explains further, "Say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.'"
Although Moses may have wished that God would free the Jewish people immediately, God had promised him that He would perform a series of wonders, leading ultimately to the death of Pharaoh's own son.
However, even though God had given Moses the power to perform miracles, and had told him the final outcome, He had not given him the ability to know His divine timetable, or what the short-term results would be for the Jewish people.
When the people's misery increased as a result of Moses' obedience, Moses faced life's hardest lesson: Although we may not understand God's actions--or inaction--He is in control.
Ultimately, of course, God did bring about the people's release from slavery, and He safely brought them into the land He had promised them.
At times, we may feel as Moses did. "Trusting God is supposed to make things better, not worse!" Accepting that God is in control, when we don't see Him acting on our behalf, can seem excruciatingly difficult when we face tragedy and trauma. We might even wish we could wrest the controls from God's hands. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we cannot persevere and experience His power and peace.
If you are struggling with a particularly painful situation, there is a flip side. Life's hardest lesson is also life's most wonderful one: God is in control and has your best interests at heart, . . . and the final outcome will be good.
© by Nancy A. Stevens
* All Scripture verses are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.