So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness…
Had they been allowed to select their path, they would have taken the short cut by the seaboard to their own promised land. But the cloud steered their pathway through difficulty and into difficulty. Behind them was the blood of the lamb. They were ransomed. Behind them the wonders of Egypt wrought on their behalf. Behind them the passage of the Red Sea. And they might have expected that, the moment they had left their foes behind, they had left all trouble and sorrow too. But instead of that, their redemption from Egypt was their redemption from comparatively easy circumstances into arduous and difficult straits. God led His redeemed in the very heart and teeth of difficulty. I am often met by men who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, who are truly His servants, behind whom there lies a wondrous story of deliverance, and they have come to me with complaints, and they have said, "I thought when I had given up my old sins that my life would be calm and placid, and that difficulty would be at an end; but instead, I never did in all my life go through such a sea of difficulty as I have known since I became a Christian." Friend, that is always God's way with His redeemed ones. You must not think that difficulty is a proof that you are wrong. Difficulty is most likely aa evidence that you are right. Never be daunted by it. Why? Those verses we read from Deuteronomy answer the question. It is in order to humble us, to prove us, and to knew what is in our heart. Difficulty is sent to humble you. If I offer my hand to a little maiden on a cold and frosty day, and she thinks she can keep her feet by herself, she is net likely to take my strong hand until she has been humbled by a tumble or two. God has been compelled to break down your self-confidence. When you started the Christian life you thought your arm was so strong it could beat down every barrier, or that you were so elastic that you could leap over any wall, or that your brain was so keen that you could see through any difficulty. God began by little difficulties, and you leapt over them; and then He put greater ones, and you successfully overcame them; and God has been compelled to pile difficulty upon difficulty until you are now face to face with a very desert on the one hand, and an Alpine range upon the other; and now broken, cowed, defeated, you are just at the very position in which to learn to appreciate, and to appropriate, the infinite resources of God. And there is another thing that difficulty does for a man. It proves him. "He made a statute and an ordinance, and proved them." There are so many counterfeits, you do not know that you have got the real thing till you have tested it. You do not know the stability of a house till it has been tested by the storm. And it is only when difficulty comes that we really know what we are. You say that you have faith. How do you know? All your life has been sunny. Wait till God hides Himself in a pavilion of cloud. You think that you obey God, but up till now the path that God has led you hath been such an easy path, through a meadow where the flowers have been bestrewn. You do not know how much you will obey until you are proved. You say you have got patience; and there is nothing sweeter than patience — the patience and gentleness of Christ. Yet you wait until you are put into the midst of trying and difficult circumstances, and then you may talk about possessing patience. And then, once more, God not only humbles and proves us, but He tries what is in our hearts; not that He needs to know, but that He may give us the opportunity of equipping ourselves for larger work. For God thus deals with us: He puts us into difficulty and watches us lovingly to see how we act, for every day He stands before His judgment bar, and every hour is the crisis of our life. If we stand the test, He says, "Come up higher," and we step up to the wider platform and plateau of usefulness. But if, on the other hand, we cannot stand the test, we step down. Will you take heart from this? Will you mind the difficulties? Oh, meet difficulty in God, and see if it be not a training-ground for great and noble work in the hereafter. But there is disappointment too. It was hard enough to have difficulty, but it was harder to be tantalized. They marched on three days; they exhausted the water they had brought, or what was left was stinking, and they could not drink it. Ah, how weary they were! Ah, you men and women, so disappointment comes to all of us. The youth has disappointments. The lad at school thinks that he is a slave, that the drudgery of Egypt was nothing compared to this. How he longs for the time when he will be his own master! And off he starts. He buries his school books, and goes forth into the world. Alas, poor lad! he finds there is no way to Canaan except by the hard plodding sultry desert march. So it is with age — mature life! mean. So it is with the young convert. They think Christian living is a great holiday, a march-past with banners and bands. But they soon find that there is a stern warfare. They are disappointed in the Church they join, they find all Christian people do not act as they thought; they are disappointed because they do not at once find sin die within them, or the devil yield, or Christianity become what they hoped, just wandering through a pleasant garden plucking flowers.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.