Chapter Eight: God Is Already There

Chapter Eight God Is Already There

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I have a friend who lived in open adultery for eighteen years. He was not a Christian and was not shy about his lifestyle. His wife, like Mable, knew most of his sins. My friend’s wife chose to honor God by staying in the marriage. She did not have to because she had biblical grounds for divorce, but she decided to stick it out, which the Bible does not prohibit. There is no doubt that God gave her supernatural grace to persevere through her husband’s many sins. He finally repented of his sins in June 1988, the day God regenerated him. Since then, he has faithfully loved and served his family in the context of a local church. The story of my friend is analogous to Biff and Mable’s story.

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Mable had to confront her soul about her present difficulty’s short- and long-term effects. There is no prescription for how to respond in a marriage like this, so we must carefully process what my friend’s wife and Mable did, though it might not be the path you should take. Because each situation differs, the offended parties must search God’s Word and seek competent counsel to discover a path forward. As for Mable, she chose to meet God in the crucible of suffering, knowing He was with her through thick and thin. These two stories remind me of the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. Though his family was in disarray, Joseph knew that God was with him and working for Joseph’s good.

After the story of Joseph’s life had finished at the end of Genesis, Moses opens the next book, Exodus, with this tidbit: “All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt” (Exodus 1:5). Whether or not you know where you are going, there is an abiding truth that is universal and applicable to everyone: Regardless of your destination, before you get there, you can know, rest, and trust in the fact that God is already there. You cannot go anywhere where God is not waiting for you when you arrive. It is impossible to go ahead of Him or to step outside of His plans for you. In good times and bad, know that God is ahead of you, waiting and ready to take care of you.

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The Israelites knew things would never be the same in their homeland. There was turmoil. They were in dire straits. The famine spread beyond normal discomfort, and families struggled to make ends meet. Then God uprooted them and sent them to Egypt. From their initial perspective, there was little hope for a change of circumstances. It was not exactly clear what they should do to resolve their problems. From their limited understanding, they had no idea of the plans God had made for them. They could only see trouble through the front windows of their caravans.

In the early verses of Exodus 1, the writer tells us that the Israelites left their homes and headed to an unknown place, Egypt. Though the text does not say it, I’m sure some of them struggled with the disruption of their homes. They were made uncomfortable; most certainly, some would have wavered in their faith about these upheavals.

  • Have you ever had an experience when God rearranged the circumstances of your life, leading you in an undesirable direction?
  • Have you ever stood at a point when all options seemed to line up with personal suffering and hardship in your future?

If so, you can understand what the children of Israel were going through. You also know what has been going through Mable’s mind. The Israelites were leaving all they knew. They had made their plans, but God was reordering their steps. Their experience was going to be a total lifestyle change. People, places, and things were disrupted, and they could do nothing about it. They were being relocated by difficult and unwanted circumstances. It reminds me of what Paul was saying to the Corinthians:

For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again (2 Corinthians 1:8-10).

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In the context of the Israelite disruption, the writer inserts five little words into the text: “Joseph was already in Egypt”! The meaning is more profound than letting the other Israelites know where their relative was. This story is about the how and the why of Joseph’s being in Egypt. As you begin to unpack Joseph’s prior circumstances, troubles, and journey to Egypt, you realize that something more significant than suffering is happening here. Then as you read about his rise to prominence, the ensuing famine in the land, and the disruption of an entire nation, you begin to glimpse God’s kindness to his people through their suffering.

It took the Israelites a long time to realize that God orchestrated Joseph’s relocation. It was His divine and loving hand. Regardless of your situation, I can most assuredly tell you that God is already there, ahead of you, preparing the way so when you arrive, there will be no doubt that you’re walking in paths of righteousness that He has cut through this fallen land! Though Biff has a ways to go, and Mable’s marriage is not all she would like, she is doing better today, loving and trusting her God while serving Him and her husband. Mable knows that God is with her. Mable knows that she was cutting her path, ignoring the red lights and construction barrels, but God can use sin sinlessly, and now that He has her attention, she’s ready for the first time to rely on Him, who raises the dead.

Call to Action

  1. Can you see God’s kindness through your suffering?
  2. What is an area of self-reliance you struggle to give to the Lord? What is your plan to relinquish your rights to your life?
  3. What does knowing that God is ahead of you, working His plans for your arrival, mean?
  4. Do you know that your Father cares deeply for you, and nobody can overturn His plans for you? How does this change you, practically speaking?

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