It happened again. Unknowingly, my husband and I watched a movie that triggered an anxious “What If?” spiral. See, at 28, I am a cancer survivor. And this cancer is likely to resurface throughout my life. With every big decision and every plan for my future, there is the gnawing question: “What if you won’t be around for that?”
This fear bubbles to a boil anytime a movie’s plot includes a young mom who dies and leaves behind her family. Tears stream automatically, almost like a reflex. And I am forced to reckon with the wound that opens just by the scratch of a movie scene. A wound that makes me confront my “What if?” question head-on.
But “What if?” questions are not confined to cancer or questions regarding the longevity of life. “What if?” questions take on a variety of forms: “What if I don’t make it to church on time?” or “What if X person gets voted into office?” or “What if I never find a husband?”
These questions gush from a deeper, more pervasive wound called fear. Fear of man. Fear of the future. Fear of loss. Fear of pain. Fear of change.
Therefore, “What if” questions do not need a band-aid; they need a Healer.
Thankfully, the Bible tells an incredible story of a fear-filled man who becomes God’s faith-filled friend. That man’s name is Moses. And his story offers hope to anyone who is presently sitting in fear.
Moses’s Calling and His Experience with Fear
At the time of God’s calling, Moses was a simple Hebrew shepherd with an interesting past. He grew up as the adopted grandson of Egypt’s Pharoah but fled after he was caught murdering an Egyptian for beating a fellow Hebrew. While tending to his flock, Moses heard God call from a bush caught aflame. From this burning bush, God commissioned Moses to lead one of the most iconic redemption stories of the Old Testament—the Israelites' release from slavery in Egypt and journey to the Promised Land. But Moses did not take on this responsibility without exposing his doubts and questions before God.
Here are some of the questions that Moses asked God upon the brink of his commission:
Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh? (Exodus 3:11)
What proof will I have that I am sent by God? (Exodus 3:13)
What if the people of Israel do not believe what I tell them? (Exodus 4:1)
After these questions, Moses begs God to send someone else (Exodus 4:10–13). His “What If’s” fester into denial of God’s sovereignty. He believes that surely, God made a mistake in choosing him. Moses knows that He is not enough to accomplish all that God calls him to.
And you know what? Moses is right. He is not enough, but God is. Through Moses’s doubt, God reveals a specific name of Moses and His people will carry dear to their hearts for generations: I AM (Exodus 3:14).
God Reveals His Name
Moses doubts and doubts. And in the doubting, God clues Moses into His character. At first glance, the name “I AM” can seem elusive or too vast to discern a meaning. But this revelation from God is too important to glance over. In its original Hebrew language, I AM is most similarly translated to the verb “to be” or “will be.” Therefore, when looking at these passages in context, scholars deduce “I AM” to mean “I will be with you.”
Moses, in all his doubt and wondering, asks God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” And God says, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). Therefore, Moses’s fears and limitations pale in comparison to the power and authority of God, who will be with Moses along the way.
With this name in hand, Moses proceeds to go before Pharaoh, to strike Egypt with plague after plague, and will eventually lead the Israelites into the wilderness and on the path to the Promised Land. God’s people wander and grumble against Him. Their hearts worship self-made idols. The Israelites become fearful and desire to return to Egypt. But all the while God is with them. God is with Moses.
It is worth noting that God does not wait for Moses’s doubts to clear before He commissions Moses to action. Moses continued in God’s calling filled with fear and questions. Yet, little by little, in patience and faithfulness, God slowly began to stitch together Moses’s doubt-torn heart. But it did not happen automatically. Moses’s faith was built steadily through taking one fear-filled step of obedience after another. God showed Himself faithful again and again.
In Exodus 33:11, Scripture describes God and Moses’s relationship in the most endearing terms: “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, just as one speaks to a friend.” In God’s grace, the man who once doubted God’s plan became the deliverer of His people. The remedy to Moses’s fear was a relationship with God. God was with Moses, just as He said He would be.
Jesus, Immanuel, Is God with Us
Jesus is with us. With Moses’s story in mind, we can better appreciate the name of God’s Son—Immanuel, or “God with us.” Jesus is God in flesh. He physically walked with mankind on earth and will reign with us as King in eternity. Ever since the story of mankind began in Genesis, God has always wanted to dwell with His people. And to make it possible, God allowed His only Son to die and cleanse us of our sins so that He can dwell with us forever. The God of Genesis is the God of Revelation. And He’s the God of your life’s story, too.
When fears pierce you and doubts paralyze you, remember Moses’s story. The God who parted the Red Sea for Moses is the God who hears your cries for help. The God who rained manna from heaven to feed the Israelites is the same God who provides for you. The God who made water flow from the rock has gushed His presence upon you through the Holy Spirit.
Next time you are wounded with doubt, lean into God’s presence instead of away. Take off the bandages that hide your fears and questions. Allow yourself to find healing in His faithful love. Even if your wildest “What If’s” come to pass, God is with you just as He was with Moses.