When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter (Exodus 13:17 NIV).
Friend to Friend
After only a few weeks at his current position, he came home from work with the news he had been demoted. After working tirelessly for nearly a year to earn this position, it had been taken from him without warning and without reason.
In the days that followed my husband, Luke, and I wondered what could have possibly gone wrong. In our prayers we asked God, “Why?” It felt like God’s plan for us had taken an unexpected detour, and we couldn’t imagine how this could be good for us.
A few days later, however, at a routine doctor’s appointment with our newborn son, we began to understand a little more.
For months, we had watched a small bump on our son’s head grow larger and larger. Up to this point his doctor had not been concerned about it, but on this day, that all changed. By the end of the day, I stood with my son in a specialist’s office as he explained that the bump on our little boy’s head was a tumor, and we would need to remove it immediately.
Two weeks later, we handed our son over to the nurse with one more kiss, one
more prayer, and one more, I love you. Then Luke and I walked hand in hand down the hall, as I stared at the floor choking back tears.
Before his demotion, my husband’s role had required him to work long hours. His job was so intense that he would often bring things home with him to work on after dinner. The demotion to a less-involved position created space for Luke to be available …
Available to sit next to me every night on the couch shoulder to shoulder as we took turns asking, “Are you okay?”
Available to stay all day at the hospital as the doctors removed our son’s tumor.
Available to hold our son in his arms and look into his little eyes when he first opened them after surgery.
And available to hear the doctor’s diagnosis that the tumor was benign.
In Exodus 13:17, we meet God’s children, the Israelites, on what may have felt like an unexpected detour. After God’s miraculous rescue of His people from Egypt, the Bible tells us, “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter” (Exodus 13:17 NIV).
After so many years in slavery and their newfound freedom, I can only imagine the Israelites were ready to enter God’s Promised Land. They may have wondered why God wouldn’t lead them on the shorter, more direct route. But the last part of this verse tells us why, “For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt’” (Exodus 13:17b).
God knew something the Israelites didn’t know. He saw that the shorter path would include war with their enemies and understood how that could impact His people. Because God did not want His children to lose heart and turn back to slavery in Egypt, He took them a different way — a longer way.
Sometimes what seems like a setback is actually God setting us up for what He knows is coming.
When my husband experienced an unexpected job change, we could not see how any part of his demotion was good. Yet God saw what we couldn’t see, and in His love for us He set us up to handle it. He did the same for the Israelites as they journeyed from Egypt to the Promised Land, and He’ll do the same for you.
When we walk the path of an unexpected detour, we can remember God sees what we can’t see. We can trust that every step of His plan for us is good.
Is there something in your life right now that feels like a setback? How can you trust God to use this situation to prepare you and shape you for the future?
Dear God, Thank You that Your plans for me are good. Forgive me for the times I’ve doubted what You are doing. Help me trust You today even if I can’t see how Your will is being worked out in my life.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
What are you facing today that seems like a detour? Write a prayer expressing your trust in God’s plan even when your path takes an unexpected detour.
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