When Moses stated that speaking to Pharaoh in the Lord’s name had only brought trouble (Ex. 5:23), part of God’s response was, “I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them” (Ex. 6 :2-3).
A footnote for Exodus 3:15 in my Daily Bible (commentary by F. LaGard Smith) says, “The Hebrew for LORD sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for I AM in verse 14.”
Though the Israelites had previously known God as God Almighty (El Shaddai), He wanted them to know Him by the name the LORD, or I AM. In the midst of their oppression, as they awaited His deliverance, God wanted to reveal something new about Himself to His chosen people. This makes me think about how different my relationship with the Lord is now than it was when I was younger. I think a big part of the reason for the change is that God has revealed different things about Himself to me through different seasons of my life, and I seem to learn the most during the most difficult times.
When I was in college and went through my first major heartbreak, God revealed Himself to me as the lover of my soul. I felt Him wooing me, actively pursuing me and practically going out of His way just to let me know that He loved me, which was the very thing I had longed for in my failed relationship.
When I was full of anxiety as I prepared to go to Africa on a mission trip, He revealed Himself to me as the provider who is more than enough, and He showed me that He is lovingly sovereign and in control.
When I was told (mistakenly) that I had had a miscarriage and was filled with sadness, He revealed Himself to me as the Father of compassion. I had a moment when I found myself quietly asking if His heart was breaking too, and immediately I knew that of course it was, that He wept right along with me. Even though I ended up finding out that our baby was, miraculously, alive and well, I thought about the story of Jesus raising Lazerus from the dead. For the first time, it occurred to me that when Jesus wept for Lazerus, He must have grieved knowing full well that Lazerus would be raised from the dead. Even though He knew that the doctor had made a mistake and I was not having a miscarriage, I know that out of compassion for me and the suffering I was experiencing, His heart was still broken right along with mine.
And, most recently, when I experienced the most difficult year of my life after my sweet baby girl was born and I struggled with post-partum blues for much longer than I ever anticipated, when I felt like He was flat out absent at a time when I needed Him most, He revealed Himself to me as God, the faithful. He hung in there with me, even when I couldn’t feel it, and gave me just enough encouragement throughout that season to get me through it and to assure me that He absolutely had not forgotten me or ceased to care about me. Not only has He not forgotten me, but He still loves me, despite the wreck that I have been and the darkness in me that only He can chase away.
Like anyone else, I would never have asked to go through these difficult times and the emotional and spiritual struggles that accompanied them. However, God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28), and I have seen that truth in my own life over and over again. I sometimes feel the need to acknowledge that my most difficult times have not been nearly as difficult as what some other people have experienced, but I am learning that the circumstances don’t really matter that much; a person can go through deep emotional and/or spiritual suffering on the inside despite how trivial problems may appear on the outside, and God can work through ANY circumstance, as He sees fit. As painful as those experiences were for me, I love thinking about the different character traits God revealed to me during each trial and I can see that He has used them to help me know Him more. Who knew that my sincere but naive prayers to know Him more would be answered in such complex ways? I don’t know what I expected when I asked to know Him more, but I can tell you that all the seasons I described above were definitely not it. Isaiah 55:8 says, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways, declares the LORD.
I pray that God will continue to use every single season of my life, good and bad, to reveal Himself to me in new ways and to bring glory to Himself. How wonderful, how sweet to know the Lord and yet to never be done learning about Him, and how amazing that He should choose to be in relationship with us that we might know Him and make Him known! Dust that we are, He loves us so. And dust that I am, I love Him back.