“…God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near…”
– Exodus 13:17
When traveling, we often want the shortest distances and smoothest roads. It is often the same for us spiritually. We want to experience life and religion in such a way that gives us the biggest blessings with the least resistance. I have discovered that in life and the Christian walk, this is not always the case. Sometimes the longest paths become the smoothest ways.
As God led Israel through the wilderness for 40 years, He did so to teach them lessons. These would teach them reliance on their Lord and how to live a resilient life in a fallen world. The Bible tells us He led them this way, “lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”
The quickest route to Canaan was through the Philistine country, which would have probably been about a two-week journey. The roads in this area were said to have been under constant surveillance by the Egyptian army. To keep His people from attack and subsequent discouragement, the Lord took the people the long way around.
Discouragement itself is not necessarily a sin. Discouragement is a feeling resulting from adverse experience. It is how we respond in those experiences that will either bring us closer to Christ or draw us away from Him. Since the people were not ready for this type of experience yet, God protected them by leading them the long way.
During times in our lives when God seems to be taking a long time to answer, do you become discouraged? If so, remember that He knows what He is doing. He may be leading you the long way around to teach you valuable lessons. He may be building up your resolve and resilience. He may even be keeping you from attacks and discouragements you are not even aware of. Stay on the path He has you on and try not to go off on your own.
“Teach me Your way, O Lord, And leade me in a smooth path, because of my enemies.”
– Psalm 27:11