This is another devotional written for my church’s Read-Through-The-Bible blog. There were more scriptures for today’s reading, but this devotional only focuses on one section.
In Exodus 23:20-33 God gives the Children of Israel some commands and some promises. He starts by sending an angel before them to protect them on their journey to the Promised Land, but he admonishes the Israelites to pay attention and obey the instructions given to them. God wants to go before us and protect us. He longs to bring us victory, but he asks for our attention and obedience along the way. He gives us great promises, but also commands great respect.
God has a place promised for each of us; a God-direction for our lives. We can choose to walk in it, or we can choose self-direction. With God-direction, come blessings. In verses 25 and 26, God lists them: food and water which means we can trust him to meet our daily needs, protection from illness, no miscarriages or infertility, and long, full, lives. Wait a minute! What about those we see who are poor, what about the sick, what about those longing for children? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I do know this: there are blessings in serving God.
I live with a spouse who has chronic health issues. In the 14 years since his illness began, God has not chosen to heal him. But I still live with hope in knowing that my God goes before us; that there is a God-direction for me and my family. I have the hope of eternity with Christ where there will be no more sickness, no more tears, no more pain – all of it will be gone. And, I experience the blessings of walking in that God-direction even in the midst of great struggle and pain.
After God lists the blessings in verses 25 and 26, he goes on to tell them that he will drive their enemies out of the Promised Land. But did you notice verse 29? God tells them that he won’t drive their enemies out all at once, but it will be a gradual process. Sometimes God doesn’t bring victory in one smashing blow. Oftentimes it’s a process.
Perhaps you’ve witnessed the following scenario. A believer is struggling to get victory in some area of their life and along comes John Doe: “You’ve got to pray more, Brother.” Or Sister Saint: “Have you tried fasting?” Or Judging Judy: “Is there unconfessed sin in your life?” Meanwhile, the poor struggling believer walks away feeling beat down and wondering if they should just give up the fight because they must not be righteous enough for God to move on their behalf.
So, what do we do when we find ourselves longing for victory and crying out, “Where is your victory Lord?” We know we’ve heard his promises. We read them in his word, we memorize them, we cling to them, and yet complete victory eludes us. Look at verses 24, 25, 32, and 33. They tell us to not get cozy with the world. Keep living for Christ. Keep serving him. Become like Job who said, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in him…” (Job 13:5 a NIV).
The longer I live for Christ, the less clear life becomes because God just keeps getting bigger and bigger. He is more complex than we can ever understand. But answers do not come in understanding God, but in trusting him even when things don’t make sense. Victory may be a process for you. Stay faithful as God moves in his time, not ours.