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♣ Optimism in the Face of Pessimism

deliverance

“When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’ And Moses said to the people, ‘Fear not, stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you and you have only to be silent”’ – Exodus 14:10-14.

IMAGINE THE SCENARIO of Israel bearing those soul-destroying burdens under the merciless and heavy hand of Egypt. Deliverance was spoken, but instead of things immediately changing, the crushing weight of oppression increased. Then deliverance came as the prison doors were burst open and Israel rejoicingly left behind their captivity.

Exulting in their newly tasted freedom and a prosperous future lying favourably before them, Israel had the worst possible event come about as the Egyptian army overtook them. Everything was undone and nothing could have looked as pessimistic as their lives came to a sudden halt; they hopelessly resigned themselves to what could only be the foreseeable outcome: death and to rot in the wilderness. Their former slavery spoke of a better freedom then their present condition. Now they were slaves of fear driven by unbelief.

We may reach the most perplexing and pessimistic moments that may linger for some time and the only commonsense perspective is to expect the worst, even though God may have spoken directly into our circumstances and reassured our hearts, that though the valley looks, feels and smells like death, He is with us and sustaining us, even though it seems He is far away. He shall bring us through to the other side, just like He carried the people of Israel through the Red Sea, drowning their fears and sorrows.

God works His wonders when every strand of human hope has dissipated and where only the most hopeless and sorriest outcome seems so imminent. How we think so differently to God; His thoughts and ways are so boundlessly higher than our own. We are finite and God is infinite and yet we can be guilty of equating God to our own human levels. Of course we cannot perceive how God shall fulfil His promises in the midst of starring opposition, but if faith is given and appropriated we are content to know persuasively that He will perform all that His Word has spoken. All that God requires is to not fear, to stand firm upon His promises and then witness His coming salvation.

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