There are two experiences God uses to lead us to know Him intimately and to develop a close, meaningful relationship with Him. First, He gives us the baptism of the Holy Spirit to experience every day. Second, He leads us into various life experiences. These experiences are usually what we would call difficult times in our life. Yet they are necessary for us to really come to know our God.
Old Testament Israel is a good example of God leading His people into trying situations in order for them to know Him personally. Israel had been in Egypt for 430 years. They had a head knowledge of God. They knew things about God, but they didn’t really know Him intimately. First, He showed His power on their behalf against Pharaoh. They saw that God was the sovereign ruler over all nature, including death, as was demonstrated in the last plague.
As dramatic as these experiences were, Israel needed a more personal experience with their God. Therefore, God led them to the Red Sea to face a humanly impossible situation. They were trapped with Pharaoh’s army behind them and the Red Sea before them.
“But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. . . . And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea” (Ex. 14:16, 17, 27).
God brought them to a place where they had to depend 100 percent on Him for deliverance. He wanted them to learn to wait on Him in all situations and to develop complete dependence on Him. He made a way through the sea on dry land, and when Israel were safely to the other side, the sea came back together and drowned all of Pharaoh’s army.
You would think that Israel would have come to know and trust God after seeing Him work personally on their behalf to deliver them from Egypt, open the Red Sea, and then destroy Pharaoh’s army. Unfortunately, that was not the case. God knew they needed to be led into more difficult situations in order to get to know Him.
So, next He led them to a place where the water was undrinkable. Now this is a serious situation in the desert. They could all have died of thirst. God wanted Israel to personally, experientially come to know Him as their provider, deliverer, and savior. He wanted them to learn to wait in trusting, restful, confident faith on Him in difficult situations, knowing He would deliver.
“Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ ” So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them” (Ex. 15:23-25).
This is the purpose of all the trials of God’s people—of all trials in your life. God leads His children into situations where they have an opportunity to learn to know and trust Him.
Personal Reflection and Discussion
1. Why did God lead Israel to the Red Sea where they could be threatened by Pharaoh’s army?
2. Why did God lead Israel to undrinkable water in the desert where they could have died of thirst?
3. Why did Israel need to go through these experiences?
4. What experiences have you gone through in your life or are currently going through where you can see God’s hand leading you to a deeper relationship with Him?
• Call your prayer partner and discuss this devotional with him/her.
• Pray with your prayer partner:
1. Pray for God to baptize you with His Holy Spirit.
2. Pray for God to revive you and His church.”
3. Pray for God to help you trust Him when you are led into difficult situations.
4. Pray for the individuals on your prayer list.
Excerpt From: Dennis Smith. “40 Days.”