For the week of February 7, 2004 / 15 Shevat 5764
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 13:17 - 17:16
Haftarah: Shoftim / Judges 4:4 - 5:31
Originally published the week of February 10, 2001 / 17 Shevat 5761

God Knows Our Limitations Better than We Do

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." (Shemot / Exodus 13:17).

I find this comment a little humorous. God led the people a certain way because he knew the other route would cause them great discouragement. Maybe you don't think this is funny, but didn't they go through other great hardships, such as no food and water? Why didn't God keep the people from experiencing those things too?

God knew that while the people would find the journey extremely difficult, they would not completely give up. On the other hand, encountering war so quickly would have been more than they could have handled.

No one likes hardship. Most of us long to be comfortable, well fed, and stress free. And yet through our lives we find ourselves in situations that we think are beyond what we can endure. Most of the time we find out that if we give the situation time, we make it through. But this is not always the case. Sometimes we seek relief by turning to destructive behaviors, short-cutting the difficult processes God wants to lead us through.

And that's the point. God knows our limitations better than we do. God prevented the people of Israel from facing something that they were truly not ready to face. But as for the other things, that was another story. Their hardships were designed to train them in faith, so that they would be prepared to enter the Promised Land as the people of God.

If we can trust that God knows what he is doing in how he supervises our lives, we will not be intimidated by difficulties. God is more than able to prevent the things that we can't handle and has made himself available to us in everything else.

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