“God often blesses us with a ‘grace given’ in the circle of a ‘grace denied.’”[1]  I can say this with confidence when I look to the past, when I remember where God has brought me from. And yet, when I look to the future, I find this much harder to believe.

My heart wavers when I see the people I care about willingly subjecting themselves to self-destruction. Sometimes I feel like I am fighting a losing battle; sometimes it seems like disappointment is the only thing to be expected. Doubt sets in when the prayers I lift up appear to remain unheard. But these doubts are lies, and as these lies whisper to me, there is a voice that speaks louder still. It is the voice of my God who declares, “I am the LORD.”

Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.

God spoke to Moses and said to him, “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.”

“I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them.” (Exodus 5:22-23; 6:2-3, 6)

Though the Lord had promised that he would deliver his people (Ex 3:8) and told of Pharaoh’s response (Ex 3:18-19), Moses accuses God of doing evil. The wilderness is often associated with the unfaithful Israelites doubting God, but we see that doubt penetrated their hearts long before that. The Israelites doubted because what appeared to be happening did not appear to align with what God had promised them. I wonder how often I am guilty of doing the same. Like Moses and like the Egyptians, I so quickly fall into viewing the world through my eyes and through my jaded perception rather than viewing the world in the context of God’s promises. It is no accident that in the 9 verses following Moses’ doubting God’s faithfulness, God speaks to Moses several times, “I am the Lord.”

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not able to see or understand the fullness of God’s character represented in his name, but God intends to make himself known as Lord by delivering the Israelites. This name, Lord, is often translated as Yahweh or Jehovah. Thus, as God reveals himself to his people as Yahweh, he reveals himself as a God who is faithful to his people. After God promises to bring the Israelites out of slavery, to bring judgment on the Egyptians, and to deliver them to the promise land, He concludes, “I am the Lord” (Ex 6:30). It seems that this phrase should have given the Israelites all the assurance they needed, and perhaps it should for us as well.

The problem is that we live in a society where promises are cheap. We live on both ends of broken promises – we neither expect them to be fulfilled, nor do we keep the promises we make. Because of this, we forget the gravity of the implications of serving a promise-keeping God. We forget that Jesus Christ died and was resurrected and reigns as Lord over all. Acts 14:22 reads, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” We should take this as no surprise. But do we actually believe God when He declares, “I am the Lord.”?  Maybe if we did, we could stop living as the defeated and instead claim the victory we have in God’s promises.

In my prayers unanswered, I am learning that I cannot separate God from His name. I am learning that God demonstrates wonderful grace in the midst of suffering that I ask him to spare me of. I am learning that he knows how to best apportion his grace for his glory and for the coming of his kingdom.

In my prayers unanswered, I am learning why God tells me his name is “I am.” He is sufficient, in name and in deed.

[1] John Piper, The Purifying Power of Living by Faith in Future Grace