God Knows The Way

Parents can often foresee danger and protect their kids from getting injured. Kids grumble and complain that they don’t have enough freedom, and that our boundaries are too restrictive. Yet, skating down the driveway toward a main road could prove deadly. A fall from a flimsy branch can lead to a shattered arm. A slip on the icy sidewalk might land them in the emergency room. In it all, we know the consequences of dangerous decisions, and we try our best to shield them from serious consequences.

Sometimes, we put our children in challenging situations to protect them. We know if they don’t apply themselves in grade school, they could grow up to be sluggards. If we give them every comfort they desire, they’ll become pleasure-seeking adults who might end up addicted to entertainment. If they never have to push through an assignment that frustrates them, they may never wrestle with the difficult passages of Scripture. Like us, our children almost always want comfort, but we know the easy path often rolls out the red carpet and then pulls the rug from underneath us.

God Plans Our Path

God often brings us through hard places to protect us from a destination that would ruin us and prepare us for places that require more of His preparation. In Exodus 13:17-18, God planned for Israel to go to Canaan, but not by the easy route. He led them “around the way by the way of the wilderness” to preserve their hope. Yet, as we will soon see, even on this rough path, God left provisions on the way for His people. 

As they went, the Israelites had a log to sweeten bitter waters, manna to eat every day, water from a rock, and God fighting for them. God prepared all of this ahead of time, perhaps hundreds or thousands of years before they even set foot on their journey. His aim was to keep them from war with the Philistines and to get glory over Pharaoh and Egypt (13:17, 14:4).

Similarly, God orders our steps and numbers our days—even the difficult days. This can be disorienting when we are in the moment, but it can also comfort us because He is not surprised by the hardship. He prepares beforehand to help through it. Though we don’t see Him with our physical eyes, the God of the pillar and fire is the God leading our way today.

Through the Holy Spirit, we have the full presence of our three-in-one God with us at every moment. He leads us by the Word of God. He encourages us through the people of God. He convicts us through the truth of God. He comforts us with the love of God. He is real and He is with us right here and right now, groaning on our behalf when we have no words (Rom. 8:26). The same Spirit that led Jesus into the wilderness just prior to His ministry sometimes leads us to the wilderness to prepare us for the calling God has placed on our lives.

God Walks With Us Through the Hard Places

God led Israel on a difficult journey into the wilderness. They went the long way to Canaan, and as they traveled, they looked up and saw Pharaoh with his dreadful army. They were filled with great fear and cried out to the LORD while at the same time blaming Moses for their calamity. They ultimately blamed God for bringing them to a grave in the wilderness, even wanting to turn back to serve the Egyptians in peace rather than die at the hand of Pharaoh. They knew they were in a pinch and their faith was weak.

Yet, as they went, they had God’s powerful presence. Christ Himself was present, possibly in the pillar of fire and cloud, leading Israel and remaining with them throughout their journey (Jude 5). 1 Cor. 10:9, in warning against grumbling like Israel, also mentions that they put Christ to the test in the wilderness. He took them on a tough route that looked impossible to overcome, but He was with them the whole way. He preserved the lives of those who believed in Him and didn’t reject Him in faithless rebellion.

Perhaps God is leading you on a difficult path. If not now, you’ve endured trials before. Remember that God doesn’t leave His children without hope and help. He is present with us through faith. In His fiery, glorious presence, God met Moses, and in the same way, He also met Israel. In the wilderness, God seemed far, and improvement seemed impossible, but He was with them and He still with us. Christ is God with us.

Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we don’t have to be afraid because God will work for us today as He worked among the Israelites. He collects our tears in His jar, and He fights for us. Christ ended the power of sin and death over His people at the cross. One day He will decimate all sin, suffering, and death completely and eradicate the whole universe of the far-reaching effects. We need to remember Christ’s finished work when we are facing trials and remind ourselves that “Those whom Christ brings into a wilderness he will not leave nor lose there, but will take care to lead them through it.” This is the blessed hope we have in Him!

God Shows Mercy Even in the Hard Places

God brought Israel on a hard journey to protect them from a harder journey. War with the Philistines would’ve been too much for the fleeing nation. After wearing down Egypt, He would not only get an easy victory, but Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the rest of the world would know that God is the LORD (14:4). God’s glory over Egypt would actually serve to protect Israel later as those nations would also know and fear the power of the LORD when He fought on their behalf. This story has God’s mercy written all over it!

God also showed Israel mercy by reminding them that they would never fight alone if they trusted in Him. If God could destroy the mighty Pharaoh and his mighty army, He could also wipe out their enemies in Canaan. If God could devastate the greatest military on the planet without Israel uttering a single whisper or wielding even one sword, there’s nothing too hard for the LORD (14:14). They were secure in their journey, and God was letting them know long before they saw the first military threat in Canaan.

Sometimes a path of travail protects us from a seemingly easy journey that would have ruined us. Think about how many times you could have wrecked your life, but God led you on a different journey. You know the situations that leave you reeling and thinking to yourself, “What if I had left me to myself?”. This doesn’t mean we don’t face hardships or make trainwreck decisions. But God even uses our mistakes and failures to build contentment, avoid folly, and dodge useless tragedy later on.

Usually, we only see one path that makes sense to us—an easy path that just makes sense. However, what if the “easy” path actually leads you down a path to destruction? What if, like Christian and Hopeful, in The Pilgrim’s Progress you walk the easy path that led others into a pit of destruction? What if you tread lightly and then as night falls you fall into a trap? What if the lush grass of the easy path causes you to fall asleep and not continue the journey toward Christ? God often uses trials of various kinds to build perseverance, character, and hope for a harder, deeper place of suffering. All of this gives us a longing for eternal hope (Romans 5:3-5).

God knows the way, and He sent the Way, the Truth, and the Life to guide us on our pilgrimage to the promised land.

Discussion Questions:

  • How do trials and tough seasons protect us from dangers that we don’t know about or foresee ahead of us?
  • How can we, as a group (and as a local church), remind one another that we aren’t alone in our trials and suffering? List at least three ways and commit to applying them this week.
  • In what ways have you personally been guided down difficult paths that have ultimately been for your good and God’s glory? How did you feel in the midst of it, and how do you feel about it now?
  • When thinking about the Pilgrim’s Progress illustration of straying from the right path by choosing the easy one, how do you see this temptation show up in your life? In what ways does it seem easy to walk with the world rather than walk with God?
  • As a group, what are some ways we can cultivate more earnest conversations about our trials and sufferings with one another? How does reading, singing, praying, and living life together help suffering Christians persevere.

Prayer Points:

  • Thank the LORD for his wise plans. Confess that you often think you know best, but He is the all-wise God whose plans are perfect. Thank Him for not leaving you to your own ways.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of His presence in your suffering. Pray that the Spirit would give you a real sense of presence in your dark days and trials. Pray that He would give you moment-by-moment reminds of Scripture, the peace of God, and joy. Ask for eyes to see and ears to hear God’s Word.
  • Thank God for His mercy in the hard places. Thank Jesus for going to the hardest place, the cross, on your behalf. Thank the Father for mercifully showing you His power in and through the difficult journey. Thank the Holy Spirit for His merciful conviction and assurance of God’s love in tough times.​​

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    God Knows The Way

    Explore the profound lessons from Exodus on how God guides us through difficult paths, protecting us from unseen dangers, and preparing us for His purpose. Discover the comforting presence of God in your trials and the mercy that often hides in challengin

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