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  • Aubrey Shackelford

Then And Now

I think we often can overlook or have trouble seeing God's hand in difficult circumstances. When you're in the deep of the pain, but also when you're being brought out of the pain. And for me personally, the Israelites are a perfect example of this. So let's explore the Old Testament a bit and see God's hand in difficult circumstances.





"... God said, 'If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.'"

- Exodus 13:17, NLT




I haven't talked much about my testimony or personal life, that's a post for another time, but I have mentioned some pivotal aspects about myself. One fact is that I have lost both of my parents, my dad when I was 4 and my mom when I was 22. And because of these two major losses, sometimes I very much feel like one of the Israelites that were lead out of Egypt. Constantly forgetting what all God has done and is doing, wanting to go back to what was "comfortable". But just as the Israelites, their comfort in Egypt was false. They were overlooking the pain and sorrow they so desperately wanted to be brought out of. And God doesn't promise an easy way out of difficult circumstances, but he does promise to be with you during them.


I begin my semester at DBU next week and I had to go on campus yesterday to try and sort some things out so next week will transition smoothly. But the route that I will have to take every Thursday contains a drive I know all too well. The longest portion of this drive is one that I took over and over again, taking my mom to and from visits to the hospital. So that route brings up some tough memories that I realized carried so much hurt. But when I mentioned this triggering drive to my friend, I told her that maybe God is trying to tell me something .. "I was with you then and I'm with you now." Now, it's much different verbalizing that statement and believing it because shortly afterward my brain completely blanked. I began talking to my friend about a potential blog post, about the Israelites, showing her some of my notes. And she made a connection that I hadn't, that what I had said about God being with me also pertains to the Israelites ... He was with them in Egypt and He was with them in the wilderness.


Now, when God was bringing the Israelites out of Egypt, He knew in advance that there was a chance they might be tempted to turn back and return to the land that had enslaved them. So what did God do to ensure that wouldn't happen? "When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promise Land. God said, 'If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt'" (Exodus 13:17, NLT). In relation to the Israelites, sometimes God doesn't take us on the shortest or easiest route. In fact, quite often He takes us through the wilderness, experiences trials and tribulations along the way to healing. And even in knowing that truth, I also relate to the Israelites in the sense of all the complaining they did ... no joke. It's easy to complain and feel defeated when you can't see the help you're receiving, and who is helping you.


"Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands."
- Deuteronomy 7:9, NLT


Even though the Israelites complained over and over again, disobeying and losing sight of who their helper was ... God didn't turn His back on them. And He doesn't turn His back on us as well, even though we may feel like He has. I know I have struggled with that lie. But our God is a faithful God, one who has the best intentions for us in difficult and painful circumstances. "Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands" (Deuteronomy 7:9, NLT). I love this quote in scripture because Moses is reminding the Israelites of God's intense love and promises. To help them acknowledge and see how God has worked in and through their lives, even if the route to healing was painful. And that's something we can relate to, that we can see ourselves in the long journey the Israelites took (and their behavior) in order to be reminded of the truth that God is a constant presence in times of trial, He is our forever healer and helper.


So in hindsight, my drive yesterday was both tough and rewarding. It'll be a route that will require me to process through painful memories, but it will also serve as a reminder that God is with me. And that is the truth that is so tough to understand, that the route to healing isn't always a straight shot. God will take you through winding roads and through the dead wilderness sometimes in order to show you His love and compassion. So what journey are you on? Can you see God's hand in it? Because He is very much for you. Always faithful in times of trial.


What Is Truth?

  • Similarly to the Israelites, God may take you on the longer route in order to show His love for you.

  • God's plan for your life is much more rewarding than anything we could plan for or imagine.

  • Even if and when we complain or lose sight of God's hand at work in our lives, that doesn't dismiss the truth that He is an ever present help in time of trouble.

Today's Scriptures: Exodus 13:17-22, Deuteronomy 7: 6-11, NLT.