Romans 8:28 (TPT)
So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together for good, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.
When we face times of adversity, we must make a decision. We can allow the hardships that we’re facing to rattle our faith, or we can allow those moments to teach us valuable lessons. Paul was certainly no stranger to adversity. That makes the words that he wrote in Romans 8:28 even more powerful.
No matter what Paul faced, he allowed God to use those moments to teach him a greater lesson. Paul opted to allow the things that he was facing to work together for his good.
While Paul may have been the one to write that such things were possible, the Bible is filled with examples of God’s people allowing Him to use their seasons of testing to strengthen them. There are some lessons that we cannot learn without seeing them in action.
The Red Sea experience, which is recorded in the Book of Exodus is filled with many lessons. The people of Israel had been supernaturally been delivered from Egypt. While Pharaoh had initially decided to let them go in order to get God to stop sending plagues on Egypt, he quickly changed his mind when he realized that he had lost more than 600,000 slaves.
With the armies of an angry Pharaoh closing in on them from behind, Israel found themselves trapped at the Red Sea. Have you ever felt like you were trapped between an enemy who wanted to destroy you and a dead end? If so, you should be sure to pay attention to some lessons that you can only learn in times of testing.
The Red Sea is a unique place. With that uniqueness comes some lessons that can’t be taught anywhere else.
God Has a Plan
Exodus 13:18 (NIV)
So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.
When the Israelites left Egypt, they had a physical manifestation of God’s presence there to guide them. The Bible teaches us that during the daylight hours, God appeared in front of the assembly as a cloud. When night came, the cloud would turn into a pillar of glowing fire that they could see from anywhere. We’re going to look at more about God’s presence with Israel in a moment, but before we do, let’s take a look at the fact that God had planned out every part of their trip.
God led the people around the desert toward the Red Sea. Why? Because God, who is not limited by time or space, knew exactly how the events of the next chapter would unfold. He knew that Pharaoh would come after them, and He knew that Israel didn’t have the means to fight off Pharaoh’s army. With that in mind, God created a plan that would get Pharaoh and his army to the Red Sea where He could destroy them.
When we find ourselves at a dead end that we arrived at by God’s leading, it’s because He has brought us to a place that He wants us to be at. Sometimes, we can only be reminded of God’s plan by arriving at those places.
Real Faith Requires Action
Exodus 14:15 (NIV)
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”
Before we dive into this lesson, it’s important to note that God wants us to pray. When we’re afraid, He wants us to bring our cares to Him. However, there are also times where God declares that we’ve spent enough time praying and that it’s time for us to take action.
While there are passages where God tells His people to stand still, it didn’t happen here. Instead, Moses was the one who told Israel to stand still. While he was trying to figure out what to do next, God told him to keep moving.
There are times where our faith prompts us to stop, reflect, and pray. However, there are also times where real faith requires action. God already knew that He was going to roll the Red Sea back. He wanted Israel to keep walking.
Sometimes, even when we can’t see what’s happening, God wants us to keep moving forward. That’s the meaning of walking by faith and not by sight.
It May Look Like I’m Surrounded…
Exodus 14:19-20 (NIV)
Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind t hem, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.
When Israel got the Red Sea and the army of Pharaoh was closing in, they didn’t need the presence of God to lead them. Instead, they needed protection. It looked like they were surrounded, but in actuality, they were surrounded by the presence of God.
By the time they arrived at the Red Sea, night had fallen. The Israelites still needed light, and God provided that. Remember, during the night, He appeared as a pillar of fire. However, Israel also needed something that would throw off Egypt’s army. When God went behind them, He cast a shadow over Pharaoh’s army. This helped slow them down, distracting them, and allowing Israel to get further ahead.
Even when it feels like you are surrounded by the enemy who is pursuing you, you are really surrounded by God. The same God who goes before you as your guide will stand behind you as your Protector.
God Performs Miracles
Exodus 14:28 (NIV)
The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen-the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
God had already performed miracles on behalf of His people. He had caused the Red Sea, one of the largest bodies of water in the region, to stand up as two walls so Israel could pass through on dry land. He had supernaturally caused the Egyptians to struggle to drive through the sand. In Exodus 14:25, He jammed the wheels of the chariots so they would have trouble driving. By the end of the story, God caused the same waters that He moved for Israel to collapse on Egypt, ensuring that His people could leave their bondage in peace.
Perhaps the most important lesson that we can learn during our Red Sea experiences is the fact that God still performs miracles. We cannot truly know Him as a Miracle Worker until we need a miracle. Israel had seen God send plagues on Egypt, prompting Pharaoh to set them free. However, when they got to the Red Sea, they learned more about Him and His power than they had ever known before.
A Closing Prayer:
Heavenly Father, while there are times where I question the seasons of adversity that I face, I know that You are working those times together for my good. Help me to see Your hand at work, even when I’m scared of the situation that I’m facing. Teach me things that I can only learn when I’m stuck at a dead end, as I know there’s no real dead ends when I follow You. In Christ’s name, Amen.