July 9 I Tuesday
“Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart.” —Deuteronomy 8:2
How many times have we found ourselves gaining victory over one struggle only to be hit by another? Trial followed by triumph followed by trial again. It can either be exhausting, discouraging and destructive or hugely empowering. In the plight of the Hebrew people, Scripture gives us a profoundly intensive account of triumph followed by trial in which forty years in the wilderness proved to be a testing ground.
During the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and wanderings in the desert, they no sooner celebrate one victory and are faced with another trial. They march boldly out of Egypt only to find Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit. They cross the Red Sea only to be three days in the desert without water. God gives them water but they are without food. God gives them food and they are then faced with a treacherous enemy, the Amalekites. One triumph after another, each followed by another trial. Why?
God tells us, “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself” (Exodus 19:4). In other words, God’s ultimate objective in the testing of His people is to bring them to Himself and that they would be His people and He would be their God. God did not free the Israelites merely to get the taskmasters off their backs, but He brought them out of captivity so that He could bring them into something else—to a land flowing with milk and honey, where they would live contentedly in relationship with Him and be given His full provision.
This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. God does not bring us out of our sin simply for us to go to heaven, but for us to live in relationship with Him. The Israelites expectancy of God’s deliverance was that they would arrive in the promised land in the quickest and most comfortable way. That is the expectancy of many Christians: a comfortable and easy way but then comes the testing. “The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 13:3). Trials and hardships expose our hearts and reveal to us the depth of our relationship with God.
We cannot live the way God intended apart from Him, and if we have alienated God, He may discipline us to drive us back to dependence on Him. When we return, what we will discover is that we can embrace these times of testing because they have brought us into a far deeper, abiding relationship with God.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I ask that our relationship grow deeper and stronger as I live every day in dependence on You. Thank You, Lord.