My daughter Abigail had been sitting in a wheelchair in the emergency room all night when she was finally wheeled back to an examination room. For hours she had grimaced and endured pain, quietly weeping off and on. Her twisted ankle throbbed even though she had elevated it and iced it through the night.
All she wanted was relief from the pain.
Well, she wanted relief…and then she wanted to return.
She wanted to return to the theatre where she’d simply taken an unfortunate step the night before. She wanted to return to the three-week run of Othello with the rest of the cast. She wanted to return to her stage combat class so she could continue learning how to wield a sword without really injuring her opponent. And she wanted to return to her voice and movement class so she could learn to waltz with grace. She wanted to return to normal.
But Abigail didn’t get to return to any of that.
The surgeon informed Abigail that in order to experience true relief and thorough healing from her broken ankle she would need surgery. Instead of a pain pill and an ice pack, Abby left the hospital with orders for surgery.
She didn’t return to the stage. She didn’t return to her sword. She didn’t return to the ballroom. Instead, life took a drastic turn in another direction. And Abigail began an unexpected journey.
As you might imagine, Abigail’s biggest hurdle was not navigating her crutches (although that was no easy task). Abby struggled most with the other losses: two classes dropped from her schedule, a role she had worked on diligently dropped from her resume, her freedom and mobility hampered, the normalcy of college life temporarily lost.
Now it came about in the course of those many days
that the king of Egypt died.
And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage,
and they cried out;
and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God.
So God heard their groaning;
and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
And God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.
The Israelites cried out for relief. And if the story stopped at the end of Exodus 2:25 we might assume God simply relieved them of the tyrannical Pharaoh who had oppressed them. We might assume God simply comforted them and provided respite. We might assume He simply gave them the relief they’d cried out for. That’s what a gracious God would do, right?
But you and I know the story didn’t end there.
In order to provide lasting relief from their bondage, God mercifully and lovingly removed His people from Egypt and took them on a journey to a better place.
Sometimes, dear friend, God does the same for us.
We cry out for relief, but God takes us on an unexpected journey.
Like Abigail’s surgery and the Israelites’ exodus, that journey may include
• additional pain
• unexpected challenges
• unknown destinations
• time spent healing
• transformation of our character
• the acquisition of new skills
• humbling moments
When you cry out for relief and receive new challenges and losses and pain instead, you might question God’s goodness. But rest assured that God is being good by giving you more than temporary relief. Abigail’s surgeon cared enough to insist on surgery rather than simply resetting the broken bones. God cared too much for His covenant children to leave them in bondage. And He loves you so much that He insists on doing a complete work in your life, too.
God never gives us less than what we need, but He often gives us more than we ask for.
We shake our heads in disgust when we read of the Israelites later complaining about their exodus from Egypt. We can’t comprehend how they’d rather return to captivity and oppression than complete the journey to freedom and prosperity.
But don’t we sometimes whine the same way when God takes us on a journey?
Hang in there, dear friend. The journey may be an unexpected answer to your cry for relief, but God is graciously taking you somewhere good…somewhere flowing with milk and honey…and freedom and joy and hope and life and health.
Funny thing. Abigail did a lot of hiking and walking on the beach this past summer as she worked to regain strength and agility in that once broken ankle. She was soon able to stand and walk just as she had before. But, boosted by a newly gained appreciation for her mobility and strength, Abigail started running a few months ago. She had never run before. Now she runs over three miles several times a week. Because Abigail broke her ankle and then journeyed through surgery and rehabilitation…she became a runner.
And she had just asked for relief.
A Prayer Suggestion
If you’ve wondered why things only got more difficult after you cried out for help, consider the fact that God may have responded to your plea by taking you on a journey. Humbly ask Him to give you a glimpse of where He’s taking you and why. Submit to His leadership and commit to trusting Him along the way. Then hold on tight!
This devotional is part of a series called Healing Words. If you’d like to read other words that bring healing to your wounded heart, click here or on the image below.
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