December 3, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“The Israelite overseers realized they were in trouble when they were told, ‘You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.’ When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, and they said, ‘May the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.’”—Exodus 5:19–21 (NIV)
Imagine this. You’re five years old again, playing with some neighborhood friends on the street. You’re all on the hunt for the “hidden treasure” when suddenly, you have an idea. You tell your older brother to go ask mom for some soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies for you and your friends to share. This would be the perfect surprise for the hidden treasure! A few minutes later, your brother comes running back with an astonished look on his face. He quickly pulls you aside and frantically whispers,
“Mom said we can’t have any cookies for a week!”
“What! Why would she say that?! We haven’t even done anything that bad . . . I think!”
“I don’t know! She didn’t sound mad at us, so I am really confused!”
“Let’s go talk to her!”
After talking with mom, you’re no less confused or sad, but you remember her words long after even though you don’t understand them for a long time after: “Oftentimes in life, you must wait for good things. It doesn’t always make sense, but waiting and hardship are actually part of God’s plan.” And even though mom had just eaten the rest of the cookies by herself, you still learned from this experience.
Long story short, the Israelites seemed to have a similar reaction to the lack of immediate provision after Moses and Aaron came to them. They could not believe that God would allow things to remain as bad as they were and even get worse. They told Moses and Aaron, “May the Lord look on you and judge you,” showing that they still believed in God, but they doubted he was actually with Moses and Aaron. This would be a continual misconception for the Jews leading all the way up to the time of Jesus and even afterwards. Even now, we can frequently get tripped up by the same notion that God’s goodness to us means the immediate relief of all hard things, but that is simply not true.
Jesus called His disciples to abandon the cares and worries of this world, and He calls us to the same. When we take up our cross to follow Him, we take up a life of suffering, but we exchange the suffering of sin for one of righteousness because now we bear the hope and the truth of Christ! Therefore, whether God decides to give us some cookies in a moment of hardship or makes us wait some more, we can still praise Him and know that He is sovereign.
The Israelites would soon learn that His promises come to completion in mysterious ways, and we will continually be learning that, too. Nonetheless, there’s a promise that’s complete now and forevermore—His promise of eternal hope, peace with Him and from Him in our hearts, and the continual outpouring of His love and grace.
Pause: What hardship have you been enduring that has strained your relationship with Christ?
Practice: Journal about your hardship. Be honest with the Lord about your questions, your difficulties, and your desires, and do not be afraid to pray about the hardship. After, take time to remember who He is and praise Him for that regardless of your current circumstances.
Pray: Father, it’s so easy to think that Your salvation and blessing equates a life of ease on earth. This idea comes from our flesh, but Jesus, You defied all those ideas. Help me remember that trusting in You, having a relationship with You, and being forgiven and cleansed, loved and chosen, and seen and wanted by You is the best blessing I could ever receive—and a life lived in this manner is a life well lived regardless of physical circumstances. I surrender to You today and ask for Your continued help to keep my mind fixed on You! Amen.
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.