Scripture: The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. Exodus 14:15-16 ESV
Observation: The implication that Moses cried to God seems incongruent with the preceding two verses, where Moses tells Israel to stand firm, remain silent, and see the salvation of the Lord, who will fight for them (see yesterday’s Daily Focus). While commentators debate whether Moses had succumbed to fear after his pep-talk to fellow Israelites, theologian Peter Enns provides the best explanation. As God’s spokesperson and Israel’s representative before God, Moses is Israel; he is one with his compatriots. Thus, their burdens and sins are his, and vice versa. So Yahweh’s question is directed to all Israel through Moses. In this sense, the Lord says to the nation: “Stop feeling sorry for yourself and go. And you, Moses, you know what to do. Lift your staff and stretch it over the waters as you did at the Nile, and I will provide safe passage for all of you.”
Takeaway: There are a couple of takeaways in this short passage. First, fear often provokes self-pity, exposing us to Satan’s machinations of self-condemnation and or contempt of others. In those vulnerable dark places, we are our worst enemy. Moreover, our inertia prevents us from moving toward the Holy Spirit’s escape routes. Secondly, as the body of Christ, when one member of the church struggles with persecution and sin, all suffer.
So how do we respond when we or others we love struggle? First, be honest with yourself. The Holy Spirit will prick our consciences if we push the pause button and still ourselves before God. And even if we feel helpless to ratchet it down, the Holy Spirit will, in due time, press in on us to where we will listen to him. Then, take the escape route he provides by first refocusing upward and outward:
- Upward in worship and Scripture recall of God’s story (his history over our histrionics)
- Outward with creative outlets (because we are designed in God’s image to co-create) and acts of service (because we follow in the footsteps of the One who came to serve)
And being one with Christ and our community of believers, we need to rely on each other to find support, encouragement, and accountability. Of course, not all who attend church are safe. So, with God’s help, we would do well to build a network of committed believers who we can lean on (and they on us) before facing the next crisis.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you do not leave us alone to face crises—as evidenced in sending your Son to save us from sin’s death sentence. So when trials and suffering come our way, would you please help us listen to and cooperate with your Holy Spirit in refocusing upward and outward? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling