If you’re unsure how to get from point A to point B, what do you do? Recently I discovered the Google Maps app. Key in your starting point, enter your ending point, and voilà! The application will get you there. I have one gripe, however. It sometimes takes me the long way to my destination because it doesn’t always factor in the latest road conditions or take into account which roads are open for shortcuts.

When the Lord intentionally takes us on a longer route, we can rest assured that He has full knowledge of the reason. As the Israelites made their exodus out of Egypt, “God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land” (Exodus 13:17). He chose to lead them on a different path because He knew the weaknesses of His people. Early battles with other nations would have discouraged the band of brick makers and construction workers—people with no combat experience. Their faith needed to be exercised and strengthened. And God prepared a perfect “curriculum” by leading them to the edge of the Red Sea.

Similarly, God has His reasons for the strange paths down which He sometimes leads us. And if He doesn’t take us the shortest way, we can rest in the knowledge that the experience is simultaneously bringing Him glory and providing for our good. His “way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30).

In the midst of it all, we can look for assurances of His presence. The Israelites experienced the visible manifestation of God being with them in “a pillar of cloud” and “a pillar of fire” (Exodus 13:22). Today, we have the Holy Spirit to comfort, strengthen, and guide us. Yes, God is with us even when He causes us to take the long way home!

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18