Friday, January 22, 2010
What do we see?
If you have been reading for a little, you know I feel a bit lost. There are no clear sign posts. No big hand in the sky pointing the way. Have you ever prayed and felt like you were just talking to yourself? Or as a dear sister recently put it, "The prayer just bounces off the ceiling?" Worse yet is when God doesn't seem to take notice of some desperate need. What does that mean? Is he not there? Does he just not like me?
During my study this past week, I have been looking at the process of deliverance for the Israelites from Egypt. The first chapter of Exodus talks about the changes in their lives. From being favored due to the wisdom of Joseph, now they were enslaved since Egypt was afraid that the family had grown too numerous. They could become a threat, maybe lead a revolt. The Pharaoh even had the baby boys killed to control the population. It was not a pleasant or safe time to be a descendant of Jacob.
But the writer of Exodus says God heard their cries. He was moved. Did he strike down Pharaoh or rearrange the political structure or pick up his tribe and move them? No. He called a man, Moses, to lead the rescue, to relay the words of God. Why would such a powerful God, if he is indeed powerful, want instead to use a man?
Moses probably wondered the same thing but, after losing the argument that he isn't the right man for the job, goes to Pharoah with his brother Aaron. He tells the Egyptian king what God wants him to say and they all live happily ever after, right?
No, or Exodus would be a much shorter book.
Things get worse. The Israelites think Moses is a jerk for making their lives even harder, Moses thinks God has screwed up in sending him and it looks like the whole rescue is in jeopardy. God doesn't let Moses off the hook. Over and over he had to stand up to Pharaoh. God didn't do some pixie magic here. He takes his time. He admits to "hardening Pharaoh's heart" so that "miraculous signs and wonders" can happen.
Bet the slaves loved that, huh?
Still, who was God trying to show off for? It would seem the Egyptians so that they get scared enough and send their slaves out of their land with some gold bracelets and supplies. Maybe he is also showing the Israelites his power because they have a long journey ahead of them. Maybe they needed to have seen God at work so that they have something to hold onto.
Reading thru this process of deliverance from so long ago brought to mind the current situation in Haiti.
The Haitian people have endured 2 large quakes now. Poor to begin with, they struggled to survive, but now even what little they had is gone. The death toll rises. No help is in sight. Riots and bandits break out as hopelessness sets in.
But cut off as they were from the world during the disaster, they did not know the prayers prayed, the money and supplies donated, the medical personnel being gathered via Twitter, the military hospital ship Comfort is coming.
We can see the rescue coming because of our perspective in this drama. But when WE are the ones in need, our vision is again obscured. Surely most of us have not been in the situation of the Haiti, but we have needed to be heard by God, in our grief, in our uncertainty, in our fear. How many times we felt like perhaps he did not hear. Perhaps he did not care.
Perhaps his help is on the way. Perhaps instead of his plucking you out of your situation, he opens an opportunity for you to step into. Perhaps instead of changing the government, he gives you a chance to serve.
At least I can see things a little differently today.