GET BETTER, NOT BITTER
So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became.
Exodus 1:11-12 NLT
As the story of Exodus opens, a time has come when Joseph and his brothers have all died. Jacob, Joseph’s father, came to Egypt with 70 in his family. Over the years those 70 have grown into an entire people group known as Israel. The Egyptians realize the Israelites are more numerous and powerful than they are. The Pharaoh that elevated Joseph to be prime minister is dead and there is new leadership in the nation. The new leaders have forgotten they got wealthy and strong because of one of these Israelites who developed a plan to store the abundance harvest and then sell it back for a huge profit. As time passes the Israelites become slave to the Egyptians. They are responsible for the harsh manual labor of farming and building. Life is harsh for the Israelites. But in this time of suffering and difficulty look at what the Bible says, “The more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread.” That is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. There is so much truth right in this. It is a fact of human nature that we don’t get strong in times of ease and comfort. We get lazy when life is easy. But when tough times come, we are forced to get up and grow up. We are forced to pray more, work harder, and think longer. We are forced to trust God for greater things when life is full of struggles and difficulties. As I look back on my years of pastoring, I have seen this truth lived out over and over. People who only occasionally attended church and rarely if ever came to a prayer meeting have a child get sick. Suddenly they are at every prayer meeting and want the church to have special prayer meetings for their child—yet not once did they ever care to change their schedule to pray for someone else’s child. I’ve seen others lose a job and suddenly commit to being faithful in tithing. When life was good, they spent their money on new boats, lake houses, and nicer cars. Now, in the time of struggle, they commit to obeying God’s command to tithe. The saddest news is that often when the immediate crisis passes the person goes back to their same previous patterns of life. Their transformation was short lived because the difficulty was not big enough to demand true life change. I believe God was allowing the Israelites to go through years of suffering, injustice, and struggle so they could learn to permanently trust God and obey His directives. Every day they were getting stronger and stronger. They were developing muscles on the outside but also muscles on the inside. They were learning perseverance, patience, and humility. A wise man told me years ago, “Whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Bad times can make us better or bitter, it all depends on what we do with them.” I choose to learn from the times of struggle. I choose to become better. I choose to become stronger. I choose to allow God to multiply His strength in and through me.
Holy Spirit please help me grow each day. Help me to grow in the good times and the bad times. Help me to get better not bitter.
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