We are reading the Bible through together this year, using the Discipleship Journal Reading Plan published by the Navigators. You can download it free of charge from: https://www.navigators.org/resource/bible-reading-plans/
Today’s 4 readings are: Matthew 11:1-19; Acts 15:22-41; Psalm 25, Exodus 4-9.
The entire account of the Exodus moves from one extraordinary event to the next. Moses arrived back on the scene after his 40 years tending sheep – then showed the Israelites the “signs” God had given him to authenticate his mission. Note the text says in 4:28 that Moses showed them “all the signs.” God had given him 3 – his staff turning into a serpent and back again; his hand becoming leprous and then healthy again; and water from the Nile poured out on the ground and turning to blood. It was enough for them to do on at first, but when Pharoah pushed back and it became difficult for them, they lost the will to pursue.
Still, we are met with Exodus 6:9 (ESV): “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.”
Chronic pain and long sustained trials have the effect of rendering us less able to hear God’s message. It is not because we are more sinful in those times – though such seasons often prove to be times of unusual temptation as well – but the nature of how pain focuses all of one’s attention to the distress. And that is true whether the discomfort is physical, emotional or spiritual. Pain creates background noise in the soul that drowns out almost everything else. And when it comes to the Believer’s attention that this is happening, they can begin to feel guilt or shame – over what is simply a natural phenomenon, and one our God clearly understands. How do we know? Because He preserved this account for us in His Word.
Beloved, if this is you, if this is a season where some sort of distress makes it exceedingly hard to hear the voice of God in His Word, in sermons, in good spiritual books, Christian music and even the counsel of dear friends – do not imagine that because your grip on the familiar discourse with your Lord somehow means He has lost His grip on you.
The Psalms are filled with laments when God seemed distant and even opposing – and then with notes of how God kept and answered all along. God never lost His grip on compromised Lot. On rebellious Jonah. On fainting Elijah. And even on tragic Samson. He knows those who are His and He knows how to keep us in the darkest, direst and most distressing times. Surely Lazarus had lost every ability to cling to His God; but Jesus could break the power of death’s darkness itself with but a word.
He will not let you go. Trust Him with your weakness and distraction as much as you trust Him with the guilt of your sin.
As George Matheson penned so many years ago:
O Love, that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Light, that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy, that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross, that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.