“Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” And the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen.” – Exodus 33:18-23.
Every Christian will face some difficult times in their lives. None of us is exempt from seasons of hardship, and the pain and discouragement that can accompany those seasons. Many people believe these seasons help us grow spiritually because it is God’s way of stretching us or bringing us back to Him. Moses is an example.
Most of us know the story of how God had brought His people out of slavery in Egypt and into the desert. God had proven His sufficiency. He had provided them water in the desert and food in the form of the manna they collected each morning. He had protected them from hostile enemies. But as we read in Numbers 11:1 that “…the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes.” At the foot of Mt. Sinai, they had seen an overwhelming display of the divine majesty and power as God appeared in the fire, smoke, thunder and lightning, and earthquake, and spoke to the nation.
While Moses was on the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, however, the Israelites complained, so Aaron made a golden calf to represent the God who brought them out of Egypt. The people offered sacrifices to it. At this point, God told Moses to go back down to the camp, which he did; and seeing the disgraceful display of idolatry, he smashed the tablets, burned and then ground the golden calf into powder. It was one of the worst days of Moses’ life. Devastated, he poured out his heart to God on behalf of the nation, frustrated with the people. He asked for someone to go with him as he led them. The Lord responded in Exodus 33:14: “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” But that wasn’t enough for Moses. Above all, He pleaded, “Please show me your glory!” (Exodus 33:18).
I hope you noticed the impact this crisis had on Moses. He saw his own limitations. He asked God to give him help in His assigned task, and God responded with the promise of His presence. While that would have been sufficient for most of us, Moses wanted more. He wanted a glimpse of God’s glory.
This a textbook example of how to handle the bumps in the road in our lives. It doesn’t take long before we realize there are issues and problems that we simply can’t handle on our own. Some situations simply overwhelm us—serious or terminal illness, severe financial problems, strained relationships to name a few. We need help. The Lord wants us to find that help in Him. He wants us to seek His presence, for He has promised that He will never desert us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
Sometimes, however, even that doesn’t satisfy us. Like Moses, we want more. We want to know God with a deeper and more satisfying intimacy; we hunger to glimpse His glory. And the reality is that were it not for the hardship, we would not be driven to seek the Lord and to know Him better.
So when faced with difficulty, try not to get stressed or depressed. Use the difficulty to learn more of God’s ways, and to know Him as you have not known Him before. Learn to see His Glory.
- In what ways do you work at your relationship with God? If “work” doesn’t describe your efforts, what word does? Why?
- What types of uncertainty do you have in your life? What does it look like to have confidence in uncertainty? How do you trust God in times of uncertainty?
- Read Joshua 1:5-6, 9. What types of things do you fear? Why do you fear them? How can you respond with faith when fear rises up inside of you?
- How does God’s presence with the Christian create strength and courage in the Christian? What effect does knowing God is with you have on you?
- Pray and seek God’s presence this week.