Stretching Out the Hand of Faith
The cries of the heart can weaken the faith. Hurt creates doubt and we lose faith in what we cannot see. But God can hear the groanings of this whole world. There is no darkness so deep that His light cannot illuminate. There is no cry so weak that His ears cannot hear. He knows.
I find much solace in the book of Exodus. It records the story a people who were crying out to Yahweh. The book begins with God’s people in turmoil, slavery had taken its toll on their spirits. Life in Egypt sapped their strength, and they wondered “How long?”.
“How long, oh Lord, until you hear our cries and act on our behalf?”
Patience had run its course. Faith waned.
“During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” (Exodus 2:23-25)
God heard their groaning. He knew.
When doubt questions whether He hears, we can can rest assured He knows.
And God remembers...He knows the covenant He made with the patriarchs so he acts on behalf of His people. In a blaze of glory, He meets Moses in the wilderness as Moses comes to Horeb, the mountain of God.
Then the Lord said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Exodus 3:7-8)
God promises that He will deliver them, but here's the catch. God tells Moses he is going to send him to Pharaoh so that Moses might bring God’s people out of Egypt. God is not going to act alone. And Moses responds, “Who am I?”
Who am I, Lord, that you would use me?
Is this not our own go-to response too often? How can you use me, Lord? I am not strong enough, brave enough, wise enough. Faith wanes, doubts creep in.
But this is where it gets good. Note God’s response to Moses’ doubt. God assures Moses that He will be with him. “I AM that I AM.” It is His very presence that will accompany Moses: the presence of the covenant-keeping God, the great I AM.
Moses' journey is not solo. His companion is I AM.
However this assurance of God’s presence is not only spiritual, it becomes literal. The first promise God makes in verse 20 is “I will stretch out My Hand.” The literal, physical hand of God. The arm of the great I AM will extend.
We have a God who is willing to act on our behalf, literally. Sometimes all it takes is our weak hand reaching out for his.
Contrast this hand of God with the stretched-out hand of Moses in the very next chapter. Again, Moses doubts that the Egyptians will believe that he was sent by the Lord. He questions God’s direction.
So the Lord says to him, “What is that in your hand?” Moses replied, “A staff.” And He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So Moses threw it on the ground (Ex. 4:2-3). Moses stretches out his own hand and throws the staff on the ground which becomes a snake. His weak hand outstretched performs a miracle.
Our weak hands extended can accomplish mighty feats when in tandem with the hand of God.
The Key to Victory
God’s final direction to Moses in verse 17 is, “Take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”
The mighty hand of God joined with Moses’ outstretched hand was the key to victory.
Lilias Trotter puts it this way,
“These last days have been full of faith lessons...over the rod and the stretched-out hand of Moses. The linking of the stretching out of that weak human hand with the mighty hand of God is so wonderful. ‘I will stretch out My Hand’--that was the first promise--and it was worked out by Moses stretching out, in his weakness, the hand of faith below.”
Oh to have the faith, to reach out our weak and trembling hand into the mighty hand of God. This is the faith that will move mountains. This is the faith that conquers fear. This is the faith that sees God.
“The stretched-out hand of faith on earth, acting in union with the stretched-out hand of God’s power in heaven. That is the sort of faith we have got to learn before we have done with it.”
We have a sure defender. A mighty arm that is ready to extend on our behalf. If we would only stretch out our weak hands, and let the great I AM perform a miracle.
“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” Isaiah 59:1
He hears, he acts. He promises to stretch out His hand.
He can save anything. Let us stretch out our hands...in faith.