Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When All Hope Seems Gone

Today's thoughts are on Exodus 1-2

"So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you shall cast into the river..." Exodus 1:22

Imagine the sense of hopelessness you would experience, if you were a pregnant Hebrew woman in Egypt at this time.  Knowing that if God blessed you with a boy, the enemy would try to turn that blessing into a curse, and rip the baby from your arms to cruelly murder him by drowning, even his little body likely becoming food for the crocodiles rather than being mourned in dignified burial.  Would you pray earnestly that God please send you only daughters?  Would you try to escape to another land? 

What if, when your time came to be delivered, and your heart surged with joy at the sound of a healthy baby's cry, you looked and felt your heart sink like a stone as you realized the beautiful, healthy baby was a boy.  Would you at this time perhaps, contemplate suicide?

This is the situation the mother of Moses faced.  Pregnant, knowing that if she had a son she would see him murdered.  She must have hid her pregnancy, because after she gave birth to her son, she continued to hide the newborn for three months.  Imagine those three months, living almost entirely within the walls of your house, terrified.  Every time your baby cries you rush to quiet him as quickly as you can, praying the whole time that God will deafen your enemy's ears.  Wondering what on earth you will do when the child gets too big to hide, knowing that at some point you will have to deal with Pharaoh's command, but looking down into your baby boys sweet face, and telling yourself, "Not today.  Surely I keep him hidden, keep him with me, just one more day." 

Finally, one day, she realized that she could just not keep him hidden any longer.  His little body was growing, his lungs were strong, when he was younger, she could leave him sleeping alone for a time, and go about whatever her work was, making an appearance in public so people wouldn't wonder what had become of her.  Now though, the baby is awake more, is cooing and playing, and cries louder, he is no longer content to sleep large portions of the day.  She realizes that there is no way that she can continue to hide him, but she also knows that there is no way she can bear to see him cast into the river.

So, in desperation, all real hope seeming to be gone, she prayerfully prepares a little basket boat.  She seals it carefully, so that it is watertight.  She carefully lays the baby's favorite blanket in in to wrap around him.  Then she places her beloved son into the basket, which probably looked so much like coffin to her, and closed the lid.  Then she placed her precious child into the very river that he seemed doomed to drown in.  As the basket began to drift away, she probably felt as if her very heart and soul were drifting away, down the river.  She knows that all reasonable hope for her child is gone, if an Egyptian doesn't find him and cast him into the river, a crocodile is bound to turn the basket over,  or eventually it will drift far down the river and her baby will be alone, with no one to care for him and feed him, and will slowly die.   All rational hope is gone, yet this mother dares to hope, she hopes enough to try, to make the little ark.  Perhaps her hope was just the irrational desperation of a mother about to be bereaved, with little real faith involved.  Or perhaps, trusted God enough to know that he would take care of her child.  Either way, it really didn't matter, she had enough hope, enough faith, to act on it and put her child in the basket rather than allowing him to be cast into the river, and that was enough for God to work with.

If you read the rest of the passage, you know that the daughter of Pharaoh himself is the one who finds the baby.  Surely, this is not what the mother expected.  The one family that she least wanted to find her child is the one that does, but God intervenes.  God causes Pharaoh's daughter to fall in love with the little baby in a basket.  And then, she hires the baby's own mother to care for him, whereas before she had to hide and fear her child's death, now she not only does not need to hide or fear, but is in fact being paid wages to just stay home and raise her own child!

So here, the mother of Moses has handed over the very hope of her heart into God's hands, has abandoned what matters most to her into His care, deciding that whatever He chooses is best, even if what He chooses is to take her child from her.  And God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, places her child back into her arms, this time protected by the very one who sought to kill him before.  In doing so, He was not only answering the prayers of this mother's heart, but was already preparing the answer for the prayers of the whole nation, preparing for the deliverance of His children from bondage, something that would not happen for over 50 years, but which God was already acting on.

What about us?  When the world around us seems to crumble, when the economy fails and we don't see how we will pay our bills?  Are we ready to trust God?  To seek Him and ask Him to show us what He might want us to hand over to Him, trusting that His will is best, even if it is not what we would choose?

1 comment:

  1. This devotion blog post actually made me cry.