17Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, "The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt."
18Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.
19Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, "God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you."
20Then they set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness.
21The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.
22He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
During those 430 years in Egypt, Jacob's family grew from less than 100 people to 600,000 men not counting the children! Even with the slavery and hardships, God had multiplied the people and made them ready for the journey through the straw collecting and brick making boot camp exercise program He instituted through Pharaoh before they left. Then, God brought them out of Egypt through miraculous signs and wonders. God planned the best route for them and was present with them in the form of a cloud by day and a fire by night.
All the while, the people did not comprehend what God was doing. How amazing for them when He showed up in that pillar of cloud by day and fire by night!!! He was there with them!!!
I have been through some pretty tough stuff along the way. Every time those tough times come, it is impossible for me to understand how God would want me to go through that stuff. But nearly every time, after it's over, I can look back and see how He designed it all just for me to take me through just the right situations. He has always prepared me and carried me through. As a result, as I kept looking to Him for grace, I grew in my faith and in intimacy with Him!! He was there all along, making me ready, planning my route, and was right there with me even when I couldn't see Him.