During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. Exodus 2:23
When my life fell apart due to my addiction, I prayed desperately for God to get me out of my mess. Rescue me! I had a very specific idea of what that meant though. I just wanted him to get me out of trouble. I begged God to remove the painful consequences of my addiction but instead, he used those painful consequences to free me from my addiction. God performed a profound work in my life, rescuing me from myself and from my addiction, but that deliverance looked very differently than I thought it should. It certainly wasn’t my plan to leave my job, go to treatment, or nearly lose my family, but that’s exactly what it took for me to become willing to be obedient, seeking God’s will instead of my own. God’s plan for rescue looked very different than mine. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD (Isaiah 55:8).
In today’s passage, the Israelites, enslaved to the Egyptians, cried out to God for deliverance. God heard their petition and began to work out his plan to rescue his people. I imagine though, that the Hebrew’s vision of rescue looked very different than God’s. I suspect that the Israelites envisioned a heavenly army wiping out the Egyptians, instantly freeing them. As is usually the case though, God’s plan was to use uncomfortable circumstances to shape his people, teaching them faith and obedience.
This is often the case with us. When we encounter any uncomfortable trial, we go to God, asking him to miraculously remove the trial. God heal me from this illness. God, however, appears to be much more interested in our spiritual health than in our physical comfort or situation. We go to God asking him to change our painful circumstances, but God often plans to use those circumstances to change us. We pray – Rescue me! Which God hears, but his plan is often to rescue us from ourselves, which often means using the pain instead of instantly removing it.
What good is to pray if God doesn’t do what I ask? I can’t answer that for you. I can only tell you that I’m now thankful that God didn’t miraculously remove my painful circumstances. If I’d have magically gotten out of trouble for my addiction, I’d still be wallowing in it. If God had done as I asked, I never would have changed. I like my life now precisely because God rescued me according to his plan – not mine.