To keep us from tooting our own horns, God allows or causes adversity in our lives. As Paul points out, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7) This was to keep Paul in line and make him realise that God is in control. God wanted him to continue to grow spiritually and to emerge from these trials a stronger person.
Without trials and adversities a person will have no need for God or will more likely boast about his accomplishments instead of giving credit where credit is due—God. When Paul asked God to remove the trial (thorn) from him, God’s reply was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
God’s reply opened Paul’s eyes to the value hidden in his adversities. He realised that God was teaching him that it was during hardships, persecutions and difficulties that God is able to show His power. When the Israelites were oppressed in Egypt, God delivered them through Moses. Moses had his weaknesses. He did not have confidence in himself and did not believe that he could do what God asked him to do. He had many excuses—he was not eloquent, Pharaoh would not listen to him. He didn’t think he was worthy of such a mission. He didn’t trust that God knew what He was doing. Moses wanted God to send someone else. God insisted on him delivering the Israelites with Aaron’s help.
Moses faced many difficulties. After he spoke to Pharaoh, the Egyptian ruler ordered that the Israelites gather their own straws for making bricks and still produce the full quota. They said to Moses and Aaron, “May the Lord look upon you and judge you. You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Exodus 5:21)
Moses then asked God why He brought trouble on the people and if that was why He sent him—to make things worse. God promised deliverance and told Moses what to say to the Israelites but they were discouraged because of their situation. They did not listen to Moses. (Exodus 5:22, 23, 6:1-11) Moses lost heart and doubted that Pharaoh would listen to him. (Exodus 6:12) God convinced him to do as He asked.
Pharaoh let the Israelites go but Moses problems were far from over. When they were in the desert, the people grumbled against Moses, were disobedient, and were attacked by other nations and the people made a golden calf to worship. But God saw to it that His people were taken care of and He used Moses to do this.
Moses’ faith in God became steadfast because He delivered His people fromEgyptand sustained them in their journey and took them to the Promised Land. Moses was able to speak to Pharaoh, show him God’s power and he taught the laws to the people. The people mourned Moses’ death. It is said that since then, there was no prophet like Moses whom the Lord knew face to face who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt-—to Pharaoh and all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of allIsrael. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)
Had Moses been an eloquent speaker, he probably would have tried to appeal to Pharaoh on his own or taken the credit when the Israelites were delivered. He probably would not have relied on God. Just like Paul. If everything continued to go well without any obstacles, he wouldn’t have had any need for God. He would have felt that he could preach and reach the people on his own. Paul realised that in his weakness he was stronger because he depended on God who gave him His strength and His grace. God gave him everything he needed to continue in the face of adversity.
God gave Moses the encouragement, the strength, the words and the necessary tools to carry out His plan. But, Moses allowed anger to get in the way and he did something on his own. He struck the rock with the staff instead of speaking to it as God had instructed. As a result he angered God and was not allowed to go to the Promised Land. Instead of trusting God, relying on Him, obeying Him, Moses did his own thing. He did not allow the people to see what God could do in impossible situations. He did not glorify God. He allowed his ego to get in the way. He wanted to show the people what he could do because they were grumbling against him and God.
When we allow our egos or emotions to get the better of us and we move away from the will of God, the consequences are great. David is another example. He wanted Bathsheba and probably felt he had the right because he was the king. He tried to manipulate Uriah so that he could pass off his unborn child on him. When that didn’t work, he had him killed. If David had gone to war instead of remaining in Jerusalem, he would not have indulged in a sin that would bring death and destruction to his family or incurred God’s wrath.