Believing God’s promise during their enslavement required the Israelites to exercise faith. Reconciling our afflictions with the goodness of God requires us to also 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 personal perception of his goodness and trustworthiness.
Nevertheless, the Israelites continued to believe God’s promise.
Their belief may have wavered many times over the centuries, 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 personal misery, God’s persistent silence, and the self-protection benefits of avoiding false hope. The arguments for believing 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.
We have three choices when times get tough.
We can believe God is good and benevolent despite our adverse circumstances. We can conclude from our affliction that he is indifferent, irrelevant, powerless, or mean. We can infer from our distress that he must not exist.
Believing the best about God is easy when our ordeals are brief, infrequent, and mild, and our sense of fairness is never violated. However, believing God is good when our suffering is severe, continuous, or unfair can be problematic.
Trusting him, when our feelings and circumstances generate doubts, 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 to us and others, rather than on a subjective perception of our current misery.
We infer God’s existence from the intricate beauty and complex functionality of the cosmos and all living things. We see evidence of his previous faithfulness in our lives, in the lives of those around us, and in Biblical history.
This knowledge gives us the confidence to believe that he will help us through our present distress.