I wrote yesterday about God’s pre-knowledge of the ups and downs, blessings and tragedies, and Joys and heartaches in our lives. The question then comes, “Why would He allow us to go through these very hard things?” “Why does He set us on a path when He knows it leads to hardship?” I confess, I’m far from an expert and I certainly can’t read God’s mind, but I can read His Word and glean some things that might help us to understand.
When the Israelites escaped Egypt they rejoiced, yet “on the fifteenth day of the second month [figure about 6 weeks] after they had come out of Egypt . . . the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron” (Ex 16:1,2). They missed the plentiful food of Egypt. So God sent them food – manna. It was their daily diet for forty years (v. 35). After a long steady run of the stuff, they complained, “we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Num 11:6). It became a source of contention for the Hebrew people.
But God knew all this. He knew when He sent Joseph to Egypt to save his family they would become enslaved for four hundred years. He knew that Pharaoh would oppress and abuse them. He knew Moses would be born at a time when Hebrew baby boys were killed. He knew that Mama would make a basket to float him down the river just as Pharaoh’s daughter would bathe in the same river. He knew that Moses would run after he killed an Egyptian for abusing a Hebrew slave. He knew right where to send him where a bush waited. He knew Pharaoh would forbid the Hebrews to leave. He knew they would be pinned between the river and the enemy. He knew they would rebel. He knew they would wander. He knew they would make a golden calf. He knew they would get hungry. He knew they would eventually grow sick of the manna.
He knew all this. Yet He worked in it all. And Moses declared, “He gave you manna to eat in the desert . . . to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you” (Deut 8:16). All of it, from Joseph to the manna was part of God’s plan. God used the manna to humble them and test them and bring them to a place of blessing. And that’s what He’s up to in your life too. In the good, the bad, and the ugly, He’s working to make you useful and usable in His kingdom. He’s working for your good. That season you’re questioning is part of His plan. And His plans never fail. Be encouraged, Beloved, God is up to something. And in the end, it will go well with you.
“Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).
The little book of Philemon is one of those books in that Bible that I thought had no value for me – I mean it only covers one page and is just Paul’s personal letter to a friend about a slave.Not as inspiring as the Psalms, not instructive like his letters to Timothy, not even about Jesus like the Gospels.Until I saw it through fresh eyes and the Holy Spirit.Philemon is the entire Gospel of Jesus Christ in 25 verses.
Philemon was the owner of a slave named Onesimus, who desperately desired freedom from his bondage.He did the only thing he could do and ran away from his master, and apparently stole from him as well.Through God’s grace he connects with Paul who is in prison and who leads Onesimus to salvation in Christ.Now he wants to make things right with his master, but fears the repercussions of his actions.Paul intercedes for him, reminding Philemon that his former slave is now his brother in Christ.Paul asks for Onesimus’ release so that he can serve with Paul.
The gospel says that you and I were slaves to sin and death, and though we desperately desired to be free, our best attempts only made our situation worse.We are fearful of God, condemned because of our sinful human nature.Then through God’s grace, Jesus finds us and offers us true freedom.Now we can come to God without fear because Jesus has made things right between us and intercedes before the Father for us.
The heart of this book is also the heart of the Gospel: “If [Onesimus] has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me . . . I will pay it back” (v. 18, 19).You and I have wronged God and we owe Him a debt we can never repay.Jesus took our sin-debt and paid it with His own precious blood.If you are in Christ, you are no longer a slave to sin and death.You are free by God’s grace.You are a child of God and a Christ is your brother.There is power in every word of the Word of God.Power to set you free.