New International Version (NIV)
It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.
Does that passage bother you? Do you struggle with the statement that God raised Pharaoh up to do what he did? Pharaoh stood up against God. He caused great suffering; not only on the Isrealites, but on his own people too… and he certainly caused Moses significant grief! He was the nation’s leader and he abused his power! That just seems wrong to me. Yet, God doesn’t apologize…. He doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t make people wrong or put anyone in the wrong places… His plan is intricate and does not require adjustments because nothing that happens ever takes Him by surprise.
As I read the account of Moses in his first days in leadership, I can imagine his conversations with the Lord. I imagine him pointing out to God, Who had called him, that they had this unforeseen problem of a very stubborn Pharoah who was holding up his plan. Pharaoh was getting in the way of the glorious exodus from Egypt. It was making the lives of His people worse to a point that their labor and lives were becoming… perhaps unbearable. Same for the Egyptians.
When I make plans to get something done, it is with the intention of making it happen as quickly, efficiently, and perfectly as possible. Hopefully no one gets discouraged and definitely no one gets hurt. I always want to look as successful as possible… And I pray that God doesn’t have other plans… But sometimes He does.
It is hard to wrap our minds around the truth that God created Pharaoh – stubborn as he was – to accomplish His purpose: to show His glory.
What about you? Have you ever had surprises or setbacks that made you feel unqualified to do what God has called you to? If so, take heart! Be strong and courageous! You are not the wrong leader at the right time or the right leader at the wrong time… Or the wrong leader at the wrong time! You are perfectly created and perfectly placed to do exactly what God made you to do. There is no re-planning in place. There is no scrambling in Heaven because things did not go according to your plan… people did not respond, or the funds did not come in, or your numbers are down… I firmly believe that He just smiles as He watches you step out in faith and do what He created you to do… Perfectly… Not because of your perfection but because of His. We see God’s plans accomplished, not because of our efforts, but because of His mercy. “So then, (God’s gift) is not a question of human will and human effort, but of God’s mercy.” (Romans 9:16 Amplified Bible)
Your work; should you choose to accept it, is just to do what God has given you to do. There will be no surprises… Not for Him anyway. He will get done exactly what He plans to do. Your benefit is that while He gets the glory, you grow in faith. Out of this comes peace, joy, love, and many other good and healthy things.