My husband served as a volunteer firefighter for five years. During that time, we lived in a mobile home located on a fire department substation. That’s to say, the kids’ bedroom windows were about thirty feet from the garage that held the fire engine and first responders’ truck.
We scrimped and saved our money hoping to someday build a house in a location better suited for raising our family. As we planned, we stipulated that the new location would have to be within the same firefighting district so Gene could continue his volunteer services, and it would have to be within a few minutes’ drive of our church.
We would also need to find a buyer for our mobile home and secure temporary accommodation for our family while we built our house. We prayed daily for God to bring all these pieces together in His time—and He did.
We trusted what we believed to be God’s lead, and we did our due diligence to ensure we covered all the necessary bases before signing contracts. Finally, confident that everything was good to go, we sold our mobile and bought a travel trailer to serve as temporary accommodation.
Two days later, circumstances beyond our control changed, making it impossible to get a building permit for the property we’d purchased.
A part of me panicked. “What went wrong?” I asked Gene. “We prayed every day for God’s guidance and protection in this process. We trusted Him and we did our part, but now we’re stuck with a piece of useless property and a 28-foot camping trailer to house our family. How could this have happened?”
The Israelites landed in a difficult place
The Israelites experienced similar emotions and asked questions, too, when they found themselves in a difficult place after leaving Egypt. God had clearly led them out of captivity, performing miracle after miracle to prove His power at work on their behalf.
To the best of their knowledge, they’d done everything He commanded to prepare for their departure. They trusted Him for guidance and protection. So, how in the world could they have ended up in this place, stuck between the sea, two mountain ranges, and the fast-approaching Egyptian army? Here’s how:
Landing in this difficult place was no accident for the Israelites. Exodus 14:1-3 says God told Moses where to set up camp. The orders could not have been more explicit. It was like God rolled out a map for Moses and circled the exact spot.
Moses had obeyed God, and the people followed his lead. But panic gripped them when they heard the pounding of horses’ hooves. They looked at their surroundings, realized there was no way of escape, and began playing the blame game.
“Why did you bring us out here to die? What have you done to us? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? We should have stayed there and not listened to you.”
In the midst of uncertainty and seeming disaster, the people lost sight of God’s sovereignty over their circumstances. They forgot His promise to be with them and to lead them into the land flowing with milk and honey, and they played into fear’s hand.
The Israelites landed in this difficult place by God’s design
Even though their situation appeared impossible, the Israelites were exactly where God intended them to be. This was where they would see Him make a way of escape where there seemed to be no way. God had a plan:
“And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told” (Exodus 14:4 NLT).
This place was where they would see God’s power defeat their enemies. This was where their faith for future battles would be strengthened. The people were in an impossible place by God’s design, and He accomplished His desired purpose.
God’s power split the water and made a dry path on the sea bed for the Israelites to cross safely to the other side. Then His power caused the same water to drown the Egyptians. If the Israelites hadn’t been in that place, they never would have witnessed this miracle.
Exodus 14:31 says, “When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the Lord had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”
My friend, God often leads us into difficult situations. We might wonder how we landed there. After all, were we not walking in obedience to Him? To the best of our knowledge, didn’t we act from integrity and with the best intentions?
If so, then how could this have happened? I know from experience how easy it is to doubt God’s wisdom and intent toward us, but I’ve also learned what happens when we rein in those thoughts.
Personal growth happens in the difficult places
Our housing crisis deepened my prayer life and grew my faith. It taught me to trust God and to praise Him in the face of uncertainty. It also led our family down an unexpected detour.
A couple of months after moving into the camping trailer, we discovered a house in a neighborhood we’d previously known nothing about. We bought it, and I made a lifelong friend there.
Eventually—in God’s perfect timing and not without a few significant challenges, He led us back to that piece of “useless” property when county officials granted a building permit after all. We sold the house we’d bought only fifteen months prior and made a profit that helped provide a decent down payment for our building project.
When we find ourselves in a difficult place, let’s neither fear nor lose hope. Instead, let’s reframe the way we think. Let’s remember that, if God leads us to an impossible situation, then we are exactly where He wants us to be.
God’s got our backs. He wants to amaze us, and our difficult place provides an opportunity to witness His mighty power. We might not understand His ways nor can we see the end of the story, but we can rest assured that it is good because He is good.
May I pray for you?
“Mighty God, thank You for lessons such as this one – lessons that reveal truths by which we can live victoriously. Thank You for Your sovereignty over our circumstances, especially those that appear impossible. Help us remember that You don’t lead us into difficult places to harm or destroy us but to provide opportunities for us to experience You in new and deeper ways. Open our hearts to this truth that we might face our difficult places with courage and faith in who You are. In Jesus name, amen.”