As I am rereading the story of God’s deliverance of the Israelites out of the hands of the Egyptians (in Exodus), I feel the Lord making the story come alive with fresh meaning yet again. I have just begun the story and look forward to continuing, but already I have noticed parallels between what God did in a literal sense for the Israelites and what He does spiritually for us in times of distress. Having just come out of a difficult season, myself, and having the spiritual low fresh in my mind, I feel the need to learn, relearn, and hide in my heart the truths that will stick with me the next time things get tough, because I have seen that these truths and revelations are sometimes the only thing you have the strength to cling to in times of distress.
I read about the Lord telling Moses to go to Pharaoh and demand that the Israelites be granted permission to leave their harsh slave drivers in order to go worship the Lord. One of the first things that struck me is how difficult returning to Pharaoh must have been, considering that their last encounter was when Pharaoh was trying to kill Moses, who then had to flee for his life. Aside from the fact that Moses was in trouble for defending a Hebrew by killing an Egyptian, Moses had been raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, who had rescued him from her own father’s order that all Hebrew baby boys be slaughtered. What a strange relationship Pharaoh and Moses must have had! I can’t grasp how they must have felt about one another in light of these strange circumstances, but I’m pretty sure that whatever their relationship was, it made the Lord’s command for Moses to go back and face Pharaoh even harder.
Exodus 3:7-9 says that God heard the Israelites’ cry, was concerned, and promised to deliver them from the Egyptians. However, when Moses and Aaron finally summoned up the courage to face Pharaoh in obedience to the Lord, things got even worse for the Israelites; Pharaoh accused them of being lazy and increased their workload, resulting in even harsher treatment of the Israelites (Exodus 5:15-6:1). I imagine this would have been confusing to Moses, who said to the Lord boldly, “Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued<sup class="crossreference" value="(X)”> your people at all” (Ex. 5:23). The “at all” part of that statement makes me think that Moses was frustrated, confused, and exasperated. I love that instead of either running away from God or hiding his true feelings from God, both of which I have found myself tempted to do when things go from bad to worse, Moses engaged in conversation with God and told God about his frustration. I have a tendency to try to steer clear of God and do my best to keep a safe distance from Him when I think that the way I’m feeling would not be pleasing to Him. I’m glad to see and to remember that God can handle our frustration and exasperation. Pslam 103:14 says, “For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust.”
I also thought about how, as in the case of the Israelites, sometimes even when we know that God has made a promise to us or has made it clear He wants to deliver us from something, and even when we summon up the courage to do the hard thing and obey His commands, things sometimes get worse before they get better. In my desperation for help, I can be so focused on my need for things to get better that I mistake increasingly difficult cicumstances for a sign that God hasn’t heard me or doesn’t care that I am suffering. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have had to remind myself that the Lord will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6) and that he “is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love” (Psalm 145:8). When something tough gets tougher, despite our best efforts to trust in the Lord and despite cry after cry after cry to the Lord for help, He hears our cries and is acting on our behalf, whether or not we can see it immediately. The Lord IS faithful!
I will end this post with Psalm 100:5:
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
and Pslam 33:4:
For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.