I’ve been thinking recently about the importance of pointing. And not just pointing, but pointing in the right direction. Let me explain…
In the past few weeks Benny and I have sat with several people who are going through really rough times. In our interactions, it’s been our joy to point them to the One who will not only get them through this hard season but will also be faithful to allow them to experience the good He promises to those who endure trials.
I’m still making my way through the Book of Exodus. Over the years I’ve learned from smart people that the Old Testament is just as much about the Savior as the New Testament. They were right! My heart has been freshly touched by how often these ancient words point to a coming Messiah. Just over the past few days two examples of how God was pointing to Another have nearly jumped off the pages to me:
- The song of Exodus 15 is strikingly similar to Mary’s song found in Luke 2:46-55.
- Exodus 15:16 speaks of “people by whom you have purchased” (the Hebrew word here means ‘created, redeemed, bought back’). Here is a loud echo of a coming Savior Who would redeem His chosen!
Thousands of years before Jesus would come to earth to die for us God whispered about His coming and then made His plan clear in prophetic declarations and strong hints. (Just for fun look at Duet 18:17-19; Ps 22; Is 7:14; Is 53; Jer 31:31-34; Dan 7:13-14; Micah 5:2; Zech 9:9…and so many others!)
Sufferers need to be pointed to God. From the very beginning of humanity and immediately after the fall God’s redemptive love has been on display. Genesis 3:15 points to the One to come who would bring a fatal blow to the tempter that had just invaded the garden of Eden. God’s loving and powerful intent to bring good out of bad is right there at the very beginning.
And it continues. Every book in the Old Testament points to Him. Page after glorious page says to the despairing, the stubborn, the broken and the hopeless: “Look ahead. Help is coming. I am with you and my good plan will be evident to you someday. It’s dark now but the light will come. You will see more clearly. I promise.”
The same God who had a plan for redeeming fallen and sinful people in the garden and in the desert; in Joseph’s pit and Daniel’s lions den; in the caves with lonely David and in discussions with Job and his friends…has a good and redemptive plan for your hard times. Our eternal God is eternally wise and good. As someone I can’t remember once said, “All of God does all that God does.”
I had to say that to myself over and over when I first heard it.
All of God — His wisdom, love, mercy, tenderness, goodness, sovereignty, kindness, power, grace — is meticulously involved in every single thing He does. He’s not loving but lacking power or gracious but not wise. Something that happened to you or me years ago wasn’t an act of kindness while what’s going on in our lives right now is because He’s sovereign and does what He wants.
No. Everything He does is done by all of Him. I can read in Exodus about Moses being the deliverer and know that he was pointing to the Deliverer to come because I’m on this side of the cross. This kind of hindsight also helps me look back to past trials and see the good that came out of them because…well…because the good actually came and I can see it!
But when we’re in the middle of trials and disappointments we aren’t there yet. Things are still dark, perplexing and disorienting. We’re tempted to wonder if God really does love us, and wish that His control would bring our spinning heart and world to a stop.
Reading Exodus is reminding me that God has always made a way for His people. His solution wasn’t always what they thought should happen. I can understand because even the good God has brought to my life as the result of past suffering still wouldn’t have always been my choice if He had asked me. I’m on this side of the cross but not yet on that side of heaven. Only when I get there will it all make sense.
The God who parted the Red Sea is still stretching forth His hand to protect and provide for His people. But imagine being an Israelite who crossed through the sea with huge, threatening, drowning waves looming nearby. I’m thinking many of them (including me!) would have much preferred a bridge over the water rather than a path through it. The God who spoke the world into being could have said “let there be a bridge.” But He didn’t.
God’s plans to get us through our difficulties can be scary at times, too. But when I’m afraid it helps me to know that all of God does all that God does. His eternal nature and unchanging character still motivate Him. History has seen the devastation of power without love. But love without power is just as frightening. Aren’t you glad our God is both — and more?
I’m grateful that the One who is parting my seas is all of God.
But like I told my friend this past weekend, I can see this now because I’m not currently in the middle of a storm. When I am I will need someone to point me to Him again.