All of us have endured times of suffering. We have experienced seasons of financial hardship, lack of acceptance from others, medical hardship, loss of loved ones, and worry over what additional stresses tomorrow will bring.
Moses found himself in season of suffering while pleading to Pharaoh for the release of the Israelites from slavery. Yet, instead of acquiescing to Moses’ request, Pharaoh instead made life harder on the Israelites slaves. He demanded they make the same number of bricks with no straw provided, and then beat the slaves when the quota was not reached.
This causes Moses to cry out to God in Exodus 5:22-23, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”
Sound familiar? “Why, Lord, when I cried out to you did our financial situation become worse? Why do I feel even more lonely? Why is my health declining? Why did my grief increase? Why does tomorrow look even more bleak? You have not delivered me from this trial at all!”
In the midst of seasons of suffering we often cry out to God for relief. But how do we respond when relief does not come? How do we respond when the situation becomes even worse?
God responds to Moses’ prayer by reminding him of several promises. God will make Pharaoh let the Israelites go (v. 1). He will still give the Israelites the Promised Land (v.4). God has heard the cries of suffering of the Israelites and will respond (v.5). He will do so by freeing them from slavery, redeeming them, and taking them as His own people (vv. 6-7).
He will. He will. He will.
But not yet. For a little while they will continue to suffer.
In the same way for us, God often answers our cries for help not with immediate relief, but rather with reminders of future promises. I will meet all your needs. I will one day take away all your pain and suffering. I will one day make it so there are no more tears and death. I will remove the work of sin which causes you to feel lonely, abandoned, and stressed about tomorrow.
But not yet.
For now there will be financial struggles, loneliness, medical pains and body decay, death and grief, and anxiety over tomorrow. For now, sin will continue to have its effect on this world and the Enemy will work hard to steal, kill, and destroy.
So what do we do in the midst of our suffering, especially when God does not answer our prayers for immediate relief? We continue to find hope in God’s Promises of what He will do some day. The Israelites found hope in the midst of slavery that one day God would overcome Pharaoh, deliver them, and lead them to the Promised Land. Likewise we can find hope in the midst of our suffering that because of Jesus and the cross, God will fully overcome Satan, deliver us from sin and death, and lead us to our eternal home with Christ.