Life is difficult sometimes, though I’m fully and embarrassingly aware that my life is not nearly as difficult as that of so many more (people I know and people from around the world). Maybe I just like to whine when things don’t go my way. Actually, I’m certain of it. Either way, some things can be difficult, and when they are, I want a way out. I want to be liberated from that which weighs me down and “oppresses” me. But it seems the more I cry out, the more God promises deliverance, the harder some things become. I realize I’m making this sound worse than it is, but I think we all feel this way sometimes, when we are least objective.
In Exodus 5 God promises deliverance to his people from slavery, but the situation just worsens. Pharaoh demands the same quota of bricks but no longer provides them with the straw to do so. They are on their own. Nothing but God and a promise. It’s hard to hear, let alone believe, the promises when things go from bad to worse, isn’t it?
Not to over-spiritualize things, but isn’t this picture of the Israelites enslaved, oppressed and promised freedom and a land of their own a picture of our lives as followers of Jesus awaiting full and final vindication in the New Heavens and the New Earth? Everything from very real and present evil at work in our lives, loss, grief and abuse, to the everyday mundane realities of a dead-end job (or no job), difficulties in school, broken relationships and unpaid bills can be oppressive to one degree or another. We cry out to God. We know he promises to walk with us, to sustain us and even, eventually at least, to free us. But the demand for bricks, the short supply of straw and the harshness of our “masters” makes it hard to hear the Good News. God sends us a spokesperson to declare our coming deliverance but because of our discouragement we do not listen or cannot hear. “In this world you will have trouble,” Jesus tells us. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16.33)
The Good News for the Israelites and for us is that even though we sometimes struggle to believe it and have faith that the promise will come to pass, one day it does and will. One day the overcoming nature of Jesus with us will become a full and final reality. And one day, though I whine and cry out and fail to listen to God’s promises at times, I know that hints and foretastes of that coming vindication will dawn on me even now.