Hardships are a fact of life that we prefer to avoid. We ask God to send blessings our way and to keep hardships far from us. When hardships do come, we tend to blame them on the devil. But, have you ever stopped to think the God might have sent hardship your way?
This reality hit home recently as I read Genesis 15. This is the chapter where God promises Abram that He will make him a great nation and that His descendants will be as numerous as the stars. Yet, in the same breath, God tells Abram that the his children will be enslaved in Egypt.
“Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.'” Genesis 15:5
“Then He said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them for four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.” Genesis 15:13, 14
“But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Genesis 15:16
Stop and think about this for a minute. Is that the kind of promise you want for your unborn children: They will be enslaved for 400 years. I might have been tempted to tell God that I was just fine without children. But, Abraham didn’t. He believed God would supply him with many descendants and that God would bless them through the hardships that would come their way.
In Exodus, we see this promise fulfilled. When God sent Moses to Pharaoh to demand His people be set free, Pharaoh made life harder for the Israelites. As Pharaoh continued to ignore Moses’ warnings, God encouraged Moses that He was in control and that these things were happening so that “the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” (Exodus 7:5)
Later Moses tells Pharaoh that the plagues are being sent so “that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.” (Exodus 8:10). In Exodus 10:1- 2, God encourages Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his servants, that I may show these signs of Mine before him, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done in Egypt, and My signs which I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”
Through the hardships of enslavement that the Israelites endured, God showed His mighty power and instilled in them that He is the Lord God almighty. The Israelites grew to be a mighty nation and left Egypt with great wealth. When they left Egypt, there was no doubt in the minds of the Egyptians that the God of Israel is the one true God.
God allowed the hardship of slavery to come to the Israelites to bring glory to Himself and to spread His fame throughout the world. God’s fame was still being talked about forty years later when the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land and spies were sent out Jericho. Rahab told the spies, “We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt….And as soon as we heard these things our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” (Joshua 2: 10, 11)
As God has revealed to me that He uses hardships for His glory and His purposes, I have become more willing to pray that God bring into my life whatever circumstances will glorify Him and draw my unsaved loved ones to Him.