I’ve got really great friends that I see during the week. I have an encouraging, vibrant church to attend. I’ve got a three year old who is charming and joyful and keeps me busy and accompanied during the day. It isn’t for any of those reasons I feel this heavy sense of aloneness. I simply don’t have my life’s companion during this time in my life. When my husband walks away every Sunday, sometimes even before our church service is over, and I know I won’t see him again until Saturday morning, a dark cloud of aloneness engulfs me.A few weeks ago, I was telling my husband I didn’t feel like myself at all. I wasn’t sure why. I’ve had to deal with my husband traveling for work for about fifteen years, so why would this time be any different? After several days, my husband wrote me an e-mail saying he thought I was experiencing a wilderness time.My first reaction was, “No. Please no!” I don’t like being in the desert. I suppose nobody really does even though seasons of wilderness can shape us into better people. After thinking on my husband’s words for awhile, I agreed with him that God had set these next few months aside as a special time for me to hear Him. I remembered the verses about being wooed by God in the wilderness. (1) I remembered that in the wilderness I could be changed by Him. I accepted it and started thinking and journaling. I made up my mind that it was O.K. to be in the wilderness, and that I wouldn’t give up while I was there.During this dry void that I’m walking through, I came across a beautiful teaching about Moses’ conversation with God at the burning bush. (2) It has encouraged me, especially during those dark times when I feel the sting of being without my husband’s help in the day to day issues of life. When I feel “on my own,” this story reminds me that God identified Himself as, “You are not alone. I am with you.”
God told Moses to go to the people of Israel and tell them God had sent him to deliver them out of Egypt. Moses asked, “Who should I say sent me?” (i.e. What is your name?) In kind of a cryptic way, God answered, “I AM WHO I AM.” (3) Why would God choose to respond like that? “I am the one who just is” doesn’t sound like much of a name. Perhaps it is because God cannot be compared to anything in our world. He exists outside of it. And, therefore, “He will be what He will be.” (4)
To gain context of how God used this particular name for Himself, and what it actually means, we only have to back up a little bit in the burning bush conversation. When Moses questioned God about who he was to stand before Pharaoh, God answered, using the same (Hebrew) phrase that He used to reveal His name. God emphatically responded to Moses, “But I will be with you!” (5) Again, it seems like a strange way to answer.
If God asked you to do something you just weren’t comfortable with or didn’t feel qualified to do, how would it feel to hear Him say, “I will be with you.”? God understood Moses wasn’t whining or complaining. Moses was simply expressing his deep concern that he couldn’t do it alone. I have a deep concern about being in the wilderness. I can’t do it alone either. The weight of living day to day with all of its challenges without my husband defines “alone” for me right now. God in essence said to Moses, and I take strength in these words, “You won’t be alone before Pharaoh. You are never alone. I will be with you the whole time!”
Moses wanted to know what to tell his broken brothers and sisters who were embittered by the harshness of their lives. Who cried out to God but still felt alone. God in essence answered Moses, “Tell them the same thing I told you. You are never alone in your times of trouble. I AM WHO I AM. I will be for you now what I will be in all your future troubles.”
The Scriptures give us a small textual clue that Moses probably objected to telling the people God’s full name. He didn’t want to tell them that God “will be for you now what He will be in all your future troubles” because how can people absorb all the stresses and heartaches of now and also those of the future? See if you can spot the place where Moses might’ve objected.
Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.’” (6)
Right after God said,”I AM WHO I AM,” did you notice that God spoke again but left off the last part of His name? God spoke again because Moses probably said something like, “Wait a minute. I can’t tell them that!” So God said, “Say this, (just) I AM has sent me to you.” Why? Though it is absolute truth that God will be (now) what He will be (in the future), God agreed with Moses that it might be too much to reveal future suffering and heartbreak.
It’s true. Most of us wouldn’t want to know in advance the trials we’ll have to go through. But we can look back and see who God was and take comfort that He will be the same for us now in our current struggles. God has never left me (though I have tried to leave Him). He has never hurt me (though I have felt hurt and disappointment in life). And, God has always been here for me (though I am alone).
It is good to be reminded that God is with us. In our times of excitement and joy. In our wilderness. And, in all the times in between. He will be what He will be. And, no amount of theology or atheism or human speculation will ever change that. I’m thankful for the stories in the Bible that encourage me. I’m thankful for the stories of friends and family that spur me on. I am alone, but God is the Great I AM. He will be to me what He will be.
Questions for Reflection:
• Perception is everything. Are you able to see seasons in your life as set aside by God for specific purposes?
• Though God cannot be compared to anything He created, what are some of the ways He has revealed Himself to you through the Scriptures or in your circumstances?
• In what areas can you take comfort and encouragement that God will be what He will be?
1. See Hosea 2:14.
2. Found at: https://www.alephbeta.org/course/lecture/shmot-does-god-real
3. See Exodus 3:14.
4. The Hebrew of “I AM WHO I AM” should be read in the imperfect tense, thus it should be translated “I will be as I will be.”