After reading through a good chunk of the Old Testament (Exodus — 2 Kings) I’ve realized… Moses had a really tough life. Yes, we’ve heard of his burning bush encounter, his victory over and out of Egypt, the Ten Commandments and his “mountain-top experience,” his leadership to the Promised Land and much more but it wasn’t easy for our Holy Land hero…

Exodus 4:10 shares with us his speech struggles which might impede on his new assignment to speak to Pharaoh and free all of God’s people. It’s so bad that Moses begs God to send someone else. (We always want to pass off the difficult stuff in life to others, don’t we?) God allows Aaron to join Moses with their proposed  exodus and the journey begins…

I can’t imagine the pains, fears and frustrations of leading a group of people into desert and wilderness. Hunger, thirst, exhaustion, uncertainty for what lies ahead or perhaps regret for what was left behind… And Moses was everyone’s favorite Customer Service Representative receiving the people’s complaints to God. Even Moses had his moments of desperation and fatigue. Moses pleads to God in Numbers 11:14, “I can not carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now–if I have found favor in your eyes–and do not let me face my own ruin.” Wow. Fortunately, God helps him out but the load of responsibilities was still far too great for one man…

And just when things couldn’t get any worse, God informs Moses of his failure to remain devoted wholeheartedly to God in order to faithfully lead the people. Because Moses broke his faith and negatively influenced the Israelites, God decided to show Moses the Promised Land from a hill top but share with him the bad news…that he would not be entering into the Promised Land with his people. Now THAT would be terrible news to receive!!! You’re being told that you will be stopping just shy of your life’s objective only to let everyone else BUT you enter the land flowing of milk and honey. Moses had it bad but that didn’t stop him from continuing to serve the Lord, did it?

Why am I bringing up all the terrible parts of Moses’ life? (I actually asked myself that same question when I felt compelled to write this story.)  I’m really not a pessimist. Then I realized something. Reading through the challenging parts of Moses’ life and ministry reminded me that faith isn’t easy, that God is always present and faithful to God’s followers, and that struggles help us to treasure the good moments in our life. These struggles also remind us that God and God’s will are worth the pain and suffering that we will indeed encounter in life.

Like them or not, our trials and tribulations help define us. However… it isn’t the suffering in-and-of itself that defines us but how we respond to it.

May your life be filled with joy instead of sorrow.
But when the sorrows come, may you find the strength and wisdom to offer a hope-filled and faithful response.

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So recently I had re-read Exodus 32:9-14 and found myself completely dumbfounded. Despite how the people of Israel treated him and his awareness that he wasn’t going to actually be entered the Promised Land himself, he still stood his ground before God and pleaded for the lives of the Israelites. Psalm 106 speaks of this act of compassion quite eloquently…

“They exchanged their Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass. They forgot the God who saved them […] So he said he would destroy them–had not Moses, his chosen one, stood in the breach before them to keep his wrath from destroying them.”   -Psalm 106:20-23

WOW! I love the added snippet “which eats grass” which further exaggerates the ridiculousness of the Israelites’ idols. Through it all, Moses’ character is proven true and we’re presented with another fine example of how compassion and love must always reign in our lives despite our condition or mood.

 

I hope your life is focused more of God’s love than things that eat grass. Let these [paraphrased] words from 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ring true for your own life:

I always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in my prayers. I continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ… 

 

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