WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN
Lord, give me the faith to see You as You are, so I may praise You as I ought.
Read EXODUS 5:22 – 6:12
22 And Moses returned unto Jehovah, and said, Lord, wherefore hast thou dealt ill with this people? why is it that thou hast sent me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he hath dealt ill with this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.
6 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for by a strong hand shall he let them go, and by a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.
2 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am Jehovah: 3 and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as [a]God Almighty; but [b]by my name Jehovah I was not [c]known to them. 4 And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their sojournings, wherein they sojourned. 5 And moreover I have heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am Jehovah, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm, and with great judgments: 7 and I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and ye shall know that I am Jehovah your God, who bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you in unto the land which I [d]sware to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for a heritage: I am Jehovah. 9 And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for [e]anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.
10 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, 11 Go in, speak unto Pharaoh king of Egypt, that he let the children of Israel go out of his land. 12 And Moses spake before Jehovah, saying, Behold, the children of Israel have not hearkened unto me; how then shall Pharaoh hear me, who am of uncircumcised lips?
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’1 What ‘troubles’ are you presently experiencing? How does Jesus’ assurance encourage you?
When bad things happen, good people wonder ‘Why?’ Moses was no exception but, unlike the Israelite overseers who lashed out at Moses and Aaron in fear and frustration (v 21), Moses takes his indignant, impatient questions to the Lord. Four times in a couple of verses (vs 22,23) he says ‘you’ (or ‘your’) and is blunt to the point of being accusatory in asking why God has allowed a bad situation to get worse.
When the Lord ‘spoke to Job out of the storm’,2 His response didn’t really address Job’s questions at all: nevertheless, Job was satisfied. Similarly, God doesn’t tell Moses what he wants to know (v 22) but He reminds him of two truths that he needs to know: that the Lord is God and that the Lord is good. Four times, God affirms, ‘I am the Lord’ (6:2,6–8). God also reaffirms His commitment to the covenant promises of land, nationhood, and blessing, for bookended by the affirmation of who He is (vs 2,8) are seven powerful ‘I will …’ statements (vs 6–8), spelling out God’s good plans for His covenant people.
Just as tears blur our vision, hardships may make us hard of hearing. God’s reassurances are not well received by the disheartened, overworked Israelites (v 9); and their negativity even infects Moses (v 12). Discouragement is both dangerous and contagious. It is one of the devil’s most potent tools, because it mutes truth and muffles hope. Do you tend to be a prophet of doom? How might you be a herald of hope instead?
‘Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves … Live the questions now … live along some distant day into the answer.’3
Almighty God, life can seem overwhelming at times and I can become easily discouraged. Give me a fresh vision of Your faithfulness and power, so my trust in You will be renewed.
1 John 16:33 2 Job 38:1 3 Rainer Maria Rilke, Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties, John Mood, ed, Norton, 1994, p31