When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, God purposefully did not lead them home a direct way (Exodus 13:17-18):
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, "Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt." But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea.I have had my own times of wilderness and of traveling the land between. Some journeys seem to take so much longer than I ever thought they would. I wonder a lot why God allows some trials to last for years.
One of Manion's premises in his book is that God was trying to teach the Israelites to trust Him. They needed water, He gave it to them. They needed food, He gave it to them. However, the people didn't learn to trust. Every new need was met not by asking the Lord to provide, but by complaints which assumed that the Lord was not going to meet their needs. There is a quote on p. 141 that I have been thinking about this morning: "Hardship intended to build trust results instead in contemptuous complaint."
Part of hardships, big or small, is to show me that God's love and provision can be trusted, and to beckon me to go to the Lord and ask for what I need. Like the Israelites, I often complain first, assuming that God will not help me. Sometimes I don't trust the Lord to meet the need, and sometimes I cravenly reject the provision the Lord gives, wanting something else instead, like the Israelites who grew sick of manna and asked for quail (which they received, and along with it a plague that killed many of them). When I react in such a way, I am rejecting the Lord--I am saying that my way is better, and that He is not enough.
The idea of trusting God in hardships sounds so holy, yet works itself out with much blood, sweat, and tears. I have to trust God when someone I love dies after I have begged and begged for healing? I have to go to God believing in His goodness when, yet again, the answer is "No."? I have to believe there is a purpose to the pain when my brothers and sisters in Christ sin and hurt me and I don't even know why? I think the Lord wants us to come to Him and cry out with our honest feelings. Moses did, Elijah did, Jesus did. He wants to give us what we need. My choice is believing that what God gives IS what I need, even when my heart disagrees, and believing that a trusting and loving relationship with Him is worth more than whatever good thing I want.