By Collin Ross
It is so often the case that our circumstances do not change as quickly as we want. When we are languishing in a toxic work environment, we want a job change as soon as possible. When our marriage is laden with conflict and division, we would rather be reconciled today and not tomorrow. But change rarely comes as quickly as we would prefer.
This was the case for the Israelites who suffered the brutality of forced labor in Egypt. To be sure, this text is a roller coaster of emotion. It begins with a strong current of hopefulness as Moses, an agent of divine liberation, returns to Egypt with the word and power of the Lord firmly on his side. The people knelt down and worshiped their God with the expectation that salvation was at hand! With Aaron by his side, Moses strolled into Pharaoh’s court, demanding the release of the Hebrews.
And that’s when it all fell apart. When Pharaoh responded to Moses’s threats with increased cruelty against the Israelites, the atmosphere of hope quickly devolved into resentment and doubt. The cacophony of grumbling culminated in our hero, Moses, bringing his complaint before the Lord: “You haven’t rescued your people at all” (Exodus 5:23).
How often are our hearts weighed down by that same sentiment when hardships linger in our lives? When our circumstances fail to change as fast as we want? There is no benefit in denying it. The question we should ask is not, “How do we avoid feeling this way?” No, that way leads only to frustration and further repression. Rather, the question that will lead us towards greater freedom and relief is, “Where do I turn when it feels like my suffering will never end?”
Moses turned to the Lord, and it is important that we recognize how the Lord did not rebuke Moses for his doubt. God’s response is infused with grace as He reassured Moses that His promise of freedom persists: “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great acts of judgment” (Exodus 6:6). In fact, the promise of freedom is linked to God’s very identity. Four times God declares, “I am the LORD,” as if to say the act of liberation is a foundational part of His character (vv.2,6,7,8). He will bring freedom to his people, because he is “the LORD.” It is what He does.
We, the reader, know that God is indeed faithful to His promise. Though it does not happen the way they expected, God led His people out of slavery. And for generations, when faced with difficult situations, Israel is called to remember the faithfulness that God demonstrated in Egypt. In our lives today, hardship continues to rear its ugly head, and its ruinous stench tarries; but our Lord keeps His promises. Our freedom from sin and death is assured, for He is “the LORD.”