Photo by Justin
I used to read the story of the Exodus from Egypt with awe and wonder at what God did. Wow! I was amazed at how Moses obeyed God in the face of great adversity, how God led them with strength and power; parting seas and showing His power. WOW.
And then the amazement would switch to disbelief as the children of Israel grumbled in the desert. ‘We used to eat meat, now we have this dry stuff.’ ‘I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, why did we leave our homes?’
I wondered how they could be so rude and ungrateful. How could these people not realise what God had done for them? I can feel many others tutting and shaking their heads alongside me.
And yet, in this season of my life, I read their moans and I have compassion. Yes, being thousands of years removed from it, and knowing the whole story, we can look in disbelief. But in that moment–yes they had been freed from slavery–but they had also left their homes. They had been in a place where they had grown, where their parents had grown and died. Where they had roots. Where they knew the streets, and the places to rest. Maybe the best place to buy bread, or the best place to watch the sunrise. They left a place of memories of seeing their children run and play and laugh. They left their homes where their children had crawled and walked for the first time, and where they had sung praises to God together.
But of course they had also left behind pain and bondage and horrors.
My husband and I lived in one country for many years. It wasn’t an easy place to live, but it was our home. In the past few years security controls have increased, and our friends and neighbours are being oppressed and persecuted. God led us out of there five months ago and led us to a new country. And yet, I find myself mourning for the place we called home. For the place where my children learnt to walk and for the people who held them and loved them as their own. For an expat community, beyond organisations, that was bonded by a love for the Living God, that has all but dissolved. I lament for the city where we knew every side street and the culture. Of course, I am also grieving for what is happening to it; that side streets are blocked with security details. Watching this and living under it was a huge weight and a huge pressure, and yet I look back and remember what was and the joy we also experienced mixed in with the pressures and the pain.
So I read of the children of Israel with some measure of compassion, but I am learning from them too. How God would remind them of what He had done, and so at night when I waver and miss and grieve, I also am learning to give thanks for how He has brought us out of there to the place He wants us to be. How He opened the seas and brought us here, how we knew we had to leave as there physically was no way we could stay, and how He is providing for all we need here. We may be wondering exactly what we are to do, but we know that He will guide and give manna and provide fresh water. He will restore our souls and will tell us what He wants us to do next, but for now, we follow the Living God.