Deafening Discouragement

Bible Reading: Exodus 5; 6; 7; 8

After the Israelites had been enslaved for 400 years, Moses walked into town and claimed that God had a message for them: God was going to free them from slavery and guide them to the land he had promised their forefathers. Instead of being set free, however, they were treated even more cruelly by their oppressors. Moses tried to encourage them with God's grand promises of rescue and redemption, "but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage" (6:9).

I, too, have experienced times when I was so deeply discouraged by life's cruelty that God's promises sounded like nothing more than fairy tales. Scriptures that had once brought comfort and hope suddenly seemed empty and meaningless. I couldn't see beyond my suffering to trust in God's mighty hand.

When others have suffered affliction, I have tried to show God's love and share God's message with them, sometimes only to see their suffering increase. Like Moses, I have cried out to God, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? ...You have not rescued your people at all" (5:22-23).

The Lord answered Moses, "Now you will see what I will do ...because of my mighty hand.... I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them...." (6:1-3). These great forefathers had feared, revered and obeyed the Almighty God, but God now offered to Moses a new depth of relationship. He would make himself known as "the Lord." He would commune with him more regularly and guide him more intimately.

God told Moses exactly what to do to break the chains of bondage, and Moses obeyed God. Though God's rescue was not immediate, it was powerful, memorable and lasting. God's glory was mightily displayed. The amazing story was spread to all the nations and has been told to every generation since.

Lord, when life is cruel and I can no longer hear the sweet comfort of your voice, help me to keep doing what you have told me, in your word, to do. Encourage my heart to follow you, keeping my hand safely in yours, even when the path seems uncertain, ill-defined and the destination unknown. Renew my hope and belief in your words, which I have seen proven, time and time again, to be faithful and true. Teach me to know and trust in the goodness of your character, as expressed in your name, "the Lord," that you later proclaimed to Moses: "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin" (Ex. 34:6-7a). When I see others who have fallen along the way, may I help them to their feet and support their steps until they, too, can hear you proclaim your name to them. Give us the strength to endure, that we might see the mighty work of your hand and have a story to tell to our children, our grandchildren, and to the world.