An Unexpected Path to Peace

Description

Difficulties are God’s opportunities to show up so that we may experience His mercy—and as a result, experience the peace that comes from knowing He is faithful and always has our backs.

Everyone wants inner peace. I was reminded of this recently when I passed a magazine rack at a local drugstore and my eyes saw a headline: "How to Be Free From Worry."

There are lots of ideas out there about how to find peace. Some people say twisting your body into a little knot and meditating will do the trick. Others say taking hot baths regularly surrounded by candles is the answer. And, some believe that chanting positive phrases helps. But no one would say that experiencing trouble is a great way to find the peace that everyone longs for.

But that’s exactly what one famous Bible story illustrates.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt for over 400 years—but then God showed up. He heard their cries and promised to set them free under Moses’s leadership and “bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey....” (Exodus 3:8, NKJV).

Hallelujah!

But then God did something that seems strange. Over the course of 16 chapters, every time God’s people tried to escape from Pharaoh, the evil leader would say, “Sure, you’re free. Go ahead and leave.” But then he would change his mind because God would “harden Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 9:12). There are different ideas about what this phrase means, but regardless, it’s clear that God promised freedom, but then seemed to encourage—or blatantly cause—the opposite. But why?

The answer is found in Romans 9:17 when God says about Pharaoh, “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

This is why God allowed His children to be chased by Pharaoh and his army right up to the Red Sea:  “that My name would be proclaimed in all the earth.”

Maybe you’re thinking, Well, that seems mean. Why would God use his children as pawns just to make Himself famous?

There’s a clue in Romans 9:23 which says that God wants to “make the riches of his glory known” to the objects of his mercy. Therefore, when God introduced Pharaoh as an enemy to his people, and they couldn’t help themselves—it was the exact vehicle He used to glorify Himself and reveal His mercy to them.

When God purposely pressed them against the Red Sea, at their greatest point of difficulty, that’s when He could put the spotlight on Himself because there was no other way out. When He rescued them, He was glorified, He demonstrated His mercy—and the result for His people was security, safety, joy—and peace.

In fact, there was so much joy and peace that they sang a song praising God when they finally crossed over the sea, free from Pharaoh and his men (Exodus 15:1-19).

What a story of comfort for us when evil seems to be winning and we are pressed against our own personal Red Sea and we wonder if anything good can come from our troubles. Isn’t it amazing? Only our glorious and loving God can make something so beautiful out of evil. We must remember this when we are in narrow, difficult places.

Difficulties are God’s opportunities to show up so that we can experience His mercy, and as a result, experience the peace that comes from knowing that God is faithful and always has our backs. Ah, yes. When only He can fix our troubles, He is glorified. When we can’t take credit for our deliverance, He is magnified. And, when He is glorified and magnified, the fruit for us is security, safety, joy—and inner peace.

That’s way better than any hot bath or thinking nice thoughts, don’t you think?

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