I don’t like uncertain circumstances. I also don’t like depressing, uncomfortable, or difficult circumstances, even if I know the outcome will eventually be good.
I remember as a college junior seeing the destruction of downtown Arkadelphia, AR, by an F5 tornado. The entire time I had lived in Arkadelphia, I had heard statements about how tornadoes never struck that area. It was a geological improbability. Yet, on March 1, 1997, one of the sixteen tornadoes to wreak havoc across the state of Arkansas hit right there in downtown Arkadelphia.
As I helped with the cleanup over the following days and weeks – and as the reconstruction stretched on afterward – I felt the overwhelming nature of the situation close in over me. There were days when I just wanted to run away. Escape. Close my eyes and be free of it all. I hadn’t lost a thing, and yet the oppression of the disaster made me feel so helpless.
I knew it would get better, but in all honesty, I wanted it better right then. Immediately. As I went with a friend to check on an elderly lady she knew. As I went with a team to sort through the belongings of a family whose house had been destroyed. As I went with another team to help clear debris from an elderly couple’s yard. As I looked at stunning images caught through the lens of a friend’s camera. Even in the mere moments after the storm as the sky cleared and the sun came out, I wanted all of the destruction to flit away with the clouds. Depression settled over me and there were moments when I was almost incapable of thinking straight. I cannot begin to imagine how the people who actually lost everything – and loved ones – felt in the middle of it.
Every time I read through the first few chapters of Exodus, I feel those emotions all over again, as if I were in the company of the oppressed Israelites. I especially sense the burden as I see Pharaoh in Exodus 5:6-19 increasing their workload. I sense their despair as Moses tries to tell them hope is coming, but they are unable to even listen because of their despair (Ex 6:9).
Then I see Moses. Moses had times of frustration and discouragement, but through it all he truly believed that God was going to succeed in this crazy venture. God had told Moses back at the burning bush that there would be opposition and that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened. God told Moses that the plagues would be necessary. God told Moses that His glory would be revealed through His wonders. And Moses tried to communicate all of this to the people. All the people could see was the hopelessness and the fact that things had gotten worse instead of better. Moses, however, chose to believe that even though it looked hopeless, God’s promises and predictions would be fulfilled.
Even in those times when I am in the middle of depression and struggle, I want to believe. I don’t want to get caught up in despair. I don’t want to crave an escape. I want to rest in the promises of God and trust Him to see it all through to the end.
May I be like Moses.