Exodus 1-4; Psalms 11-12; Matthew 18

Week Number
12

Do you ever feel battered, overwhelmed, and even hopeless because of the life-changing issues and problems facing you, your loved ones, your friends, or people you have not actually met? At times I do.

Barely a week goes by without multiple stories of people in pain, whose suffering is unmistakable. There is news of broken health, broken relationships, and death. My heart grieves deeply with each new message, and I am reminded once again how limited my ability is to make a difference. But I am also reminded how important it is for each of us to center our thoughts and trust on God during times that bring us to the end of our own resources, for only God can bring renewed hope to shattered and grieving hearts. Circumstances come to all of us that cause us to cry out to God for relief, understanding, solutions, and comfort for ourselves or others.

The Israelite slaves of so long ago would have understood these feelings. Exodus tells the story of their harsh mistreatment by the Egyptians and their intense suffering. God was not unaware of their pain and spoke to Moses about their plight: “Then the Lord told him, ‘You can be sure I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt’” (Exod. 3:7). Here, and throughout the Bible, we are assured by God that He sees our pain.

The verse continues, “I have heard their cries for deliverance from their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering.” What are your slave drivers? What is causing you misery or suffering? God is aware of your situation and pain. Like the Israelites, you may not see any possible way through your suffering or have any hope for a better day to come. Based on your abilities, you may see no possible escape, but we must be careful not to think of God as being restricted by the things that limit us.

God was not controlled by the Egyptians’ power, and the last verses of Exodus 3 contain His promise that not only will the Egyptians let the Israelites go free but they will send them off with great riches. How absolutely impossible this must have sounded to the Israelite slaves when they heard it. This was a promise to turn their world upside down, to deliver them from slavery and poverty to freedom and wealth.

What was it that caused them to believe such a reversal in fortunes was possible? Was their belief based solely on the signs of the Lord’s power that Moses could perform? Or was it that they chose to believe that God is who He says He is and would do what He said He would do? Is it possible that they understood the underlying power of God’s name and knew that their trust could rest there? God says in Exodus 3:14 that His name is “I AM THE ONE WHO ALWAYS IS.” Eternal, holy, just, powerful, never-changing, promise-keeping, loving, ever-compassionate, always hearing His children as they cry out to Him.

What we do know is that they chose to trust in spite of their circumstances, circumstances that gave no earthly reason for such trust. And it was because of that trust, that the leaders all bowed their heads and worshiped. Their circumstances had not changed but their focus had. In that moment of worship, the leaders did not know what lay ahead. They did not know that their lives were going to take a sharp turn for the worse before God’s promise of their liberation would be accomplished. Worsening events would cause their faith and trust to falter, but those events never altered God’s promise to them nor its eventual success.

Throughout the Bible we are told again and again that God hears our cries for help, that He watches everything closely, and that He is aware of our suffering. The Israelites’ story is one of great suffering, coupled with great trust in God’s deliverance and goodness. It was the type of trust that wouldn’t make much sense if viewed through eyes that looked only at the circumstances in which these people found themselves. But it was a trust that was well-placed, even though the pain increased greatly before deliverance came.

We are not alone in having experiences that lead to feelings of brokenness and despair. Such experiences ripple through history. But thank God, we are never alone through these difficult times; God is with us. He knows, He hears, He cares, and He is able to turn our mourning into joy, if we can accept as truth His promise of ultimate goodness for His children.

“The Lord is in his holy Temple; the Lord still rules from heaven. He watches everything closely…” (Ps. 11:4).

 

© 2010 Arlina Yates

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