Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Exodus 1-3, Matthew 14:1-21
8 Now a new king came to power in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph. 9 He said to his people, “The Israelite people are now larger in number and stronger than we are. 10 Come on, let’s be smart and deal with them. Otherwise, they will only grow in number. And if war breaks out, they will join our enemies, fight against us, and then escape from the land.”11 As a result, the Egyptians put foremen of forced work gangs over the Israelites to harass them with hard work. They had to build storage cities named Pithom and Rameses for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they grew and spread, so much so that the Egyptians started to look at the Israelites with disgust and dread. 13 So the Egyptians enslaved the Israelites. 14 They made their lives miserable with hard labor, making mortar and bricks, doing field work, and by forcing them to do all kinds of other cruel work (Exodus 1:8-14, Common English Bible).
As I began thinking my way through this post one of the things that came to my mind was the first half of a verse from Psalm 23, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.”
We all go through difficult times in life. While we are walking through that dark valley, I think a pretty universal sentiment is, I need to hurry up and get out of here so things in my life can get back to normal.
The converse is also true. When we are going through those great times in life, through the mountain-top experiences, we want them to continue. It would be OK with us if they went on indefinitely, even forever.
The truth of the matter is, we won’t stay in the valley forever. Nor will we stay on the mountaintop forever. I have a theory. The longer we stay up on the mountain, the more likely God is to show up with a spiritual bulldozer to push us off of said mountain. Why? Because the mountain is not where the sheep are fed. It isn’t where growth takes place. The sheep graze on the flat places and down in the valleys. Those valleys, those hard times in life are opportunites for us to grow.
In today’s reading from Exodus we find this verse: “But the more they were oppressed, the more they grew and spread, so much so that the Egyptians started to look at the Israelites with disgust and dread (Exodus 1:12, CEB). The more they were oppressed… The more they walked through the valley, the more they grew. I realize this verse could be read literally and it is still true. But, I want to challenge us to read the verse with spiritual eyes. Read it, instead of a verse about Israel, read it as a verse about you.
Life can be hard for all of us. At times it is hard for all of us. And, of course, we really don’t want to walk the valleys. But, perhaps instead of dreading the valleys and trying to make our way quickly to the other side (something often beyond our ability to control), we should look at these difficulties as opportunities for growth. They are opportunities for God to chip away at our rough edges to become more of the person God wants us to be.
Have a great day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved