Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Problem with Pharaoh

There's a question that's bugged me for a lot of years...

Why did God harden Pharaoh's heart? Why put the Egyptians through all the horrors of the plagues? And what about the Israelites? How could they stand the seesaw of 

Yes, you can go.
No, you can't go.
Yes, go. 
No, stay.

Back and forth, over and over. It must have driven them nuts!

Now, let me reiterate what I've said before in this blog: I'm no theologian. I'm simply someone who seeks to understand God. So as I questioned God about all this, He brought a friend to mind. Someone who has been struggling and afraid of losing something they love. Someone who has been calling on God deliverance. For months and months. And then, a miracle! The deliverance came. 

Until it didn't. 

The miracle God performed opened a door for the treasured thing to be salvaged, but there was a condition. And the condition couldn't be met. So my friend felt as though God had answered her prayer--then pulled it back. Why would God do that?

As I pondered her situation and what happened with Pharaoh, I read Exodus 9: 15-16:

Then the Lord said [to Pharaoh], "By now I could have lifted my hand and struck you and your people with a plague to wipe you off the face of the earth. But I have spared you for a purpose--to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth." 

As I read that, I started to wonder. What if the miracle He gave my friend wasn't to salvage the thing she didn't want to lose. What if it was instead God's way of reassuring her that He was there. Of showing her His power. What if His plans for her are far beyond what she imagines, and He knows that means she has to lose what she doesn't want to lose. But because He loves her so much, He showed her, for a moment, that He was there. Working on her behalf. To help her let go and rest in Him. 

God doesn't do things the way we expect. And though I know through experience that He answers prayers, I also know those answers often aren't what we expect them to be. But they're exactly what we need. Losing a job leads to letting go, which leads to new beginnings that are so much better than what we lost. 

I don't understand God all the time. But I know this: I can trust Him. I can trust His character and His promises and His love. Even when it seems like everything is going wrong, I know He's in control. 

He's got it covered. He's got me covered. 

And that's all I need. 


Sandy said...

Thanks so much for this. Your words are a confirmation of what I heard God whisper last week. See, we finally conceived a baby and lost it at 7 weeks gestation. The highs and lows involved in this are indescribable. God's peace and love throughout all of it leaves me speechless. I know He has great plans for us and we're looking forward to those revelations.


Karen B. said...

Oh, Sandy, I'm so sorry for your loss. May the God of all comfort cloak your heart in the sure awareness of His love and presence.

Lisa Jordan said...

Karen, I've been teaching Moses for the past couple of months to my early elementary Sunday school Little Darlings. Trying to help them to understand what God was doing, I reminded them He is with us doing the bad times too.

Thank you for your words of wisdom. When I read the verse you highlighted, I had goosebumps.

God has shown himself many times over the past three years while Hubby was out of work. At times it did seem like He had answered prayers and pulled them back, but instead He was preparing something greater for Hubby. And now Hubby is working at a good company for a decent wage and benefits. All because of God--no one can tell me otherwise. :)