Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
Exodus, Suffering and God’s Glory
The story of Moses is well known, even if you don’t know much about the Bible. For Christians it is a cherished story. Hidden within it, however, is a gem for those of us who experience suffering that teaches us about the higher purpose of seeing God’s glory.
In Exodus God’s people were suffering and God heard their cries and called Moses to tell Pharaoh to ‘let my people go!’ When Moses met the leaders this was heralded as good news (ch. 4). However, when Moses actually announced this to Pharaoh he made life worse for the Israelites by adding burdens to their work. The result was that the people complained (ch. 5).
So God’s will (to rescue His people from suffering) actually resulted in more suffering for His people! Now to be sure God is never the agent of sin (Jas 1:13) but that is not to say that everything is ultimately part of His will (Eph 1:11). God may be the first cause but His will is worked out through secondary causes (Acts 2:23, 4:27–8). This lesson is key to the storyline of Exodus.
Moses, recognizing something of this, puts the situation back into his God’s face who had begun this saga in the first place. Listen to what he said to the LORD (Ex 5:22–23):
22 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”
Why is a question we often ask when we suffer as Christians. Why Lord, why!? Yet God was still keeping His promises and teaching both Egypt and Israel of His glory, the glory of His justice and the glory of His grace. Listen to the LORD’s reply to Moses:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country.”
It was through suffering that the Lord would teach His people of His glory. If the hardships were not great the display of His glory would be trivialized. Think of what would have happened if God had simply allowed Pharaoh to ‘let His people go’ immediately. Israel would not have learned to depend upon Him, nor seen His might or His love. They would not have been as grateful or experience as great a salvation. It was through trusting the Lord in the suffering that they would see His glorious power.
It is like that in our lives too. Why God will’s suffering remains a mystery; but that He works all things for good for His people is a promise we can depend upon (Ro 8:28). When we suffer we must in faith humbly trust the Lord’s will and know His will display His glory and accomplish what is for our greater good as we wait upon Him.
Weeping may tarry for the night,
but joy comes with the morning. (Ps 30:5b)
When I was a boy, I had a fantastic three story tree house complete with ropes and ladders. One day I had the brilliant idea to erect a pulley lift that, through hoisting, would pull me on a seat up into the tree house above. All was well, like I said, a brilliant idea! Part way up my maiden hoist I realized, however (being a hefty lad), that the strength of my arms was not adequate to match the engineering of my pulley system. I let go and fell—flump! It was the first and only time I have had the wind knocked out of me. I lay there for some time until I came too and was able to go back to my play.
That story is a very simple description of the believer’s journey through life. There are times when all seems to be going well: well at work, well with the wife, well in our relationship with Jesus. Then suddenly, our world is turned upside down, by death, illness, succumbing to temptation, etc. However, through looking to Jesus, in time, life usually finds some sort of equilibrium again, and ultimately light always returns.
In studying prayers in the Bible and in Christian counselling, this process has been called: Orientation, Disorientation, Re-Orientation.
One Bible scholar notes 6 types of prayers found in the Old Testament offered to God by people who are disoriented:
The following suggestions are offered as ways of preparing for or walking in faith in the midst of disorientation (in no particular order):
This is like doing business in great Waters, or like going down into the deep; this is like being in the heart of the Sea, and like going down to the bottoms of the Mountains; now it seems as if the Earth with its bars were about us forever. But let them that walk in Darkness and have no light, trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon their God. For my part, as I have told you already, I have gone often through this Valley, and have been much harder put to it than now I am, and yet you see me alive. I would not boast, for that I am not mine own saviour, but I trust we shall have a good deliverance. Come, let us pray for Light to him that can lighten our Darkness, and that can rebuke not only these [fiends], but all Satans in Hell.
One thing is sure, we will face disorientation in life. I am always amazed by the Psalms that almost always, even after expressing disorientation in a variety of ways, end in faith and hope. Allow the Psalms to be the guide of your heart through disorientating experiences. Pray through them. They will express and align your heart to the Father and lead you from darkness into His glorious light.
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