Primacy Of Faith

Believing God’s promise during their enslavement required the Israelites to exercise faith. So, likewise, reconciling our afflictions with his goodness requires us to exercise faith.

For The Israelites

Until God sent the first plague upon the Egyptians, the Israelites saw no indication he would ever fulfill his promise of rescue. Their slave status never changed. Their living conditions never improved. The Egyptians offered no hope of emancipation.

The Israelites were likely oblivious to God’s nation-building strategy because it unfolded in small increments over centuries. Daily miseries undoubtedly obscured their perception of his goodness and trustworthiness.

Nevertheless, the Israelites continued to believe in God’s promise.

Their belief may have wavered many times in Egypt. But it was strong enough to warrant passing down the promise to succeeding generations, as evidenced by Moses collecting the bones of Joseph.

The Israelites knew God had blessed their ancestors and rescued their forefathers. Their very existence evidenced this fact. Their knowledge of God’s historical faithfulness justified their belief in his eventual rescue.

The Israelites would have dismissed God’s promise early in their enslavement had they relied solely on logic or feelings to gauge his trustworthiness.

The reasons to dismiss the promise included their misery, God’s persistent silence, and the self-protection benefits of avoiding false hope.

The arguments for believing in the promise included their existence, the legacy of their forefathers, and their desire for freedom.

The Israelites considered both alternatives and chose to believe God would honor his promise. Their decision exemplified the definition of faith.

For Us

We have three choices amid affliction.

We can believe God is good and benevolent despite our adverse circumstances. Or we can conclude he is indifferent, irrelevant, powerless, or mean. Or we can infer from our distress that he must not exist.

Believing that God is good is easy when our ordeals are brief, infrequent, and mild, and our sense of fairness is never violated. However, believing that he is good when our suffering is severe, continuous, or unfair can be problematic.

When our feelings and circumstances generate doubts, trusting him requires us to exercise faith.

Exercising faith amid affliction means basing our trust in God on the objective evidence of his existence and his previous faithfulness rather than on a subjective perception of our current misery.

We infer God’s existence from the intricate beauty and sophisticated functionality of the cosmos and all living things. We see evidence of his previous faithfulness in our lives, the lives of those around us, and Biblical history.

This knowledge gives us the confidence to believe he will help us through our present distress.