For the week of February 11, 2006 / 13 Shevat 5766
Torah: Shemot / Exodus 13:17 - 17:16
Haftarah: Shoftim / Judges 4:4 - 5:31


Facing Hardship

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. (Shemot / Exodus 14:15).

I have read the Bible for many years now. My coming to know Yeshua as the Messiah is intimately connected to the Scriptures. I have the conviction, as do many others, that the Bible is our authority for faith and life. Cultures and societies may come and go, but God's Word stands forever. In its written form we discover who God is and who we are. We also learn how we are to relate to God and to the world he created.

Day after day we are inundated by viewpoints and philosophies, subtle and not so subtle, claiming to give meaning to life, telling us what is right and what is wrong. I suspect most of us are not aware that this is going on as we embrace this or that lifestyle. Even those who claim to live by the principles of Scripture do not always realize how we get caught up in a way of life that may or may not be in line with those principles. The world around us continually seeks to squeeze us into its mold, which is most often contrary to God's design. That is why we need to regularly submit our ways of thinking to the Bible and allow it to correct us.

As I have been rereading the story of Israel's deliverance from Egypt, one of own my false assumptions was confronted. I have tended to think that if and when God gets involved in our lives, the results should always be immediate and without much effort. Is not God the All-Powerful One? Nothing can thwart his plans.

This is true, but there is something else going on here that we may not always be quick to accept. While God did deliver Israel from oppression, it was a very difficult process. I imagine God could have done it some other way, but breaking Pharaoh's hold on the nation of Israel was not accomplished in an instant. As Moses confronted Pharaoh, things got worse for the people before they got better. This process was long and destructive. For the people of Israel it would have meant a great measure of courage, faith, and endurance.

As I realized that this was not an easy thing for them, I started to think of the other times in the Bible when God got involved in people's lives. The truth is what happened in Egypt was far from unique. In fact I don't think we can find anyone in the Bible who had a truly meaningful life with God, who didn't have to go through significant difficulties.

If this is true, then we are doing ourselves and others a disservice if we give the impression that having God in our lives is a way to escape hardships.

Maybe you find this concept disturbing. After all, if God is real and all powerful, why doesn't he make life easy for us? This brings us to another misconception we may have. It seems we tend to think that God should be our knight in shining armor, who, as he takes pity on our helplessness, comes to rescue us from the evil tormentor and then carries us off to his palace, where we will live happily ever after. A nice thought, but far from reality. As children of God, we were designed to live life on earth as God's representatives. We are not simply victims in need of rescue. As God restores us to a right relationship with himself, he is seeking to rebuild us into a people who will work alongside him to fulfill his purposes in life.

When God rescued the people from Egypt, he was also training them in order to prepare them to serve him. The same is true today. When God saves us through Yeshua, it is just the beginning of a life-long process in which he is preparing us to do his will in the world.

Once we accept that to follow God includes facing hardship, I believe we will be more able to live life as we were meant to.

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