By Dot Bowen
Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not been seen.” Exodus 33:21-23 (NIV)
Years ago I faced the very thing I thought I would never be able to endure: the death of my parents. My dad lived with cancer for a month, and then years later my mom was diagnosed with cancer and battled her disease for a year before dying. As a young adult I often thought there would be no way I could handle living without my parents. I couldn’t imagine going a day without talking to my mom. And to be honest, after all this time, I still miss talking with her.
The death of my parents is one of many difficult things I’ve had to face. But I have learned that you do what you have to do. I’ve finally gotten to the place where I can talk about the events leading up to my mom’s death with more laughter than tears. I have to laugh when I realize caring for my parents was left to my sister and me. How did we do it? How did we make the difficult decisions concerning their treatment? At the time, we lived moment to moment. Only now can I look back and see the presence of God leading us. Of course we prayed every day, but we were emotionally involved with the pressure of life and death, and it was difficult to see God in every decision.
Over the years, I have learned I see God more clearly as I look back on my life compared with when I am trying to live life. I’ve been studying the life of Moses, and I’m amazed Moses had the nerve to ask God to see His face. God charged Moses with leading His people out of Egypt toward the land He promised to the Israelites. At first, Moses argued that he is not capable of doing what God asked, but God promised He would be with Moses. God’s presence was represented by fire at night and a cloud in the morning. When the people saw God’s presence, they were supposed to move toward the Promised Land. One day, Moses asked God if he could see the face of God. I love that God told Moses “no.” Why does this make me happy? I guess I feel better knowing God said no to Moses since I have had plenty of “no’s” from Him myself. Even though God said “no,” He told Moses He would “pass by him and allow Moses to see His back.” Can you imagine the hair standing up on Moses’ arms as Almighty God passed by him?
As I think back on the most difficult times in my life, I see God’s presence more now than when I was in the middle of the crisis. Now I see every detail God worked out in His mercy. But when I was in the midst of the issue, I wasn’t sure I had the strength to get dressed every morning. Are you in a place where you don’t feel God’s presence? I can’t tell you what God is up to, but I can tell you He is present. You may not see how your situation can turn out for your good, but you will. God will do for you what He did for Moses. Turn to Exodus 33:21 in your Bible. When you need to see God’s goodness and know He is present, find your refuge in Him. At the moment, you may not feel He is present, but He is. After the crisis, you will be able to look back and see how God carried you through your this difficult time. Ask God to put His protective hand upon you, and as you trust Him, you will look back and see the goodness of God.
We know God is working all things out for our good, but we often don’t see how any good can come out of a situation until it has passed. God promises to never leave us or forsake us, and that means even through the hardest times of our lives. You may not see His face in the midst of agony, but you can rest knowing God is faithful to His promise that He will never leave you. When difficulties come, you may not feel His presence until you have gone through the heartache and look back and realize all the miracles that got you through the difficulties. Often times we see God more clearly when we look back.
Further Reading Exodus 33; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 91:1-2; 1 Samuel 2:2; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4