The timing was in God’s hands
Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” (Exodus 5:22–23)
Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go.” (Exodus 7:14)
He is packed. There are red check marks indicating the completion of the preparation checklist. You have accepted that deployment is a reality, but he is still here. It seems like the deployment will never happen. If he has to go, then go already! The sooner he goes, the sooner he will return, right?
Welcome to the “hurry up and wait” syndrome that pokes fun at the military’s penchant to rush toward readiness only to sit for long periods before action. When it happens to you, it is not at all funny. The tendency seems like a paradox to what we characterize as a methodical and mechanized military.
The military helps drive home a true-life lesson: We cannot control time and what happens within the boundaries of time. Who can set the time when a storm may destroy a home? When a son or daughter falls in love? When an illness strikes? When a child takes a first step? We cannot control many things—good or bad. Yet we can have confidence that God is with us at all times.
When you are ready to get deployment started (so it can end!), it is hard to enjoy the wait. The Israelites certainly were not enjoying their wait, as the cruel bondage they experienced got worse. Scripture does not give a timeline for the events of Exodus, but we can surmise it took more than a few weeks from orders to exit.
The timing was in God’s hands. He said go and it would happen, but it was not as simple as packing up one day and leaving the next. Even God’s presence did not guarantee instant results.1
What did Moses do in his time of waiting? “Moses turned to the LORD …” (Exodus 5:22). In private, he took his discouragement to God. His words indicate he thought God’s promised deliverance would happen faster and with greater ease. You can hear the frustration and disappointment in his words: “and you have not delivered your people at all” (Exodus 5:23b).2
Moses needed the strength and courage such communion with God would provide. If you read ahead in Exodus 7, you see their exit would literally be plagued by delays.
The lesson on timing is an important one in the context of deployment—and life. Events do not always happen on our timetable. Plans change. Other considerations affect our schedule, and no matter how meticulously we plan, we cannot control time.
How does waiting cause you to doubt God’s faithfulness? What can you do to counteract doubt?
Prayer for the Journey
Lord, give me patience to wait and trust in your timetable. Remind me of your Word: “Do not to be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). Amen.
1 Peter Enns, Exodus: The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 161.
2 Douglas Stuart, Exodus: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2006), 169.