Have you ever felt like Moses?
I’m not talking about the feeling you get when you raise your arms, and the sea splits in two right in front of you. That’s not the Moses-y feeling that I’m getting right now. Nor am I talking about the feeling you get when you dip your staff and the water, and all of it turns to blood. I mean, I’m not really sure I’d like to have that feeling, but it’s not the feeling I’m talking about anyway.
I’m talking about the Exodus 18:14-18 version of Moses. The one who was overwhelmed and needed the counsel of Jethro to tell him that he didn’t have to be everything for everyone.
Sometimes I get absolutely, positively exhausted. Sometimes you can’t help but feel like you’re giving all of yourself to everyone around you, and there’s no time left over to relax, recuperate, and recharge. To borrow a line from Bilbo Baggins, you feel like “butter, scraped over too much bread.”
Another good example takes place a little earlier in the book of Exodus, and in this instance, I don’t feel like Moses, but the people of Israel after Moses showed up on the scene.
Have you ever felt like the Israelites when Moses told Pharoah to let his people go and worship their God in the wilderness, and Pharaoh responded by telling them they needed to continue doing their job, but without the resources they’ve had to do it in the past (Ex 5)? Can you feel their pain when their taskmasters say that they still have to keep up with all of the quotas and goals, but they weren’t going to be able to have the stuff that made it easier for them? Oh, and they’re not going to be compensated for the extra workload they’re now carrying. Have you ever felt like that?
I do now.
I can’t lie, sometimes I associate more with the book of Lamentations than I do with the book of Philippians. I can’t lie; sometimes, I associate more with the book of Lamentations than I do with the book of Philippians. Sometimes Psalm 69 hits me in the gut way more than Psalm 1. It’s times like these that I read, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?” (Ps 13:1-2, NRSV), and I know exactly what David was feeling.
I can’t lie, sometimes I associate more with the book of Lamentations than I do with the book of Philippians.
I can’t lie; sometimes, I associate more with the book of Lamentations than I do with the book of Philippians. Sometimes Psalm 69 hits me in the gut way more than Psalm 1. It’s times like these that I read, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?” (Ps 13:1-2, NRSV), and I know exactly what David was feeling.
I guess the purpose of me writing this is to say –
You’re not alone.
And the truth is, you’re not supposed to be alone. It’s tempting for us to think that, now that we’ve been ‘saved,’ all of our struggles have been banished from our lives, and if we find ourselves feeling at all down, we must be doing something wrong. The truth, however, is quite the opposite. It’s true that we should celebrate our tribulations (Rom 5:3), but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we should celebrate our celebration and ignore the sorrow. If we keep reading in Romans, we see that we should celebrate our tribulations (sufferings) because we know that suffering brings perseverance, and perseverance brings proven character, and proven character brings hope (vv.4-5).
While there’s no doubt that we have the hope of the age to come just over the horizon, we have to remember when Paul said to Timothy that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Tim 3:16, NIV) that was intended to include Ecclesiastes 3 where it clearly says that there is a time for both weeping and laughing, and a time for both mourning and dancing (v.4).
It’s essential to embrace the seasons of sorrow for what they are and not try to mask them with a veneer of happiness. This season in your life will build the strength and perseverance along with the character you need to grow into the son or daughter of God that you are intended to be.
It hurts to be the sponge that has been wrung dry, and I’m not here to tell you that everything happens for a reason, as if that makes it feel any better while you’re in the middle of it. That, in my opinion, is a misreading of Scripture. I would argue that everything happens to us, and we’re going to grow no matter how we make it through, but the more our character becomes like that of Christ, the more we’re going to seek to find the hope of God’s salvation in every situation.
The truth, right now, is that I’m writing this because I need to hear it. I trust that, in the Lord’s timing, there are others who also will be blessed by this. But right now, I’m being selfish.
Right now, I’m crying out to God, saying, “How long, O LORD, until I see some relief? How long until my tears turn to laughter? Let my path be your path, but please take away some of the detours and hazards.”
LORD, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you. May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength. I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Your wrath lies heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief. I call to you, LORD, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do their spirits rise up and praise you? Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion? But I cry to you for help, LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, LORD, do you reject me and hide your face from me? From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken from me friend and neighbor— darkness is my closest friend.
-Psalm 88:1-18, NIV
If you can read this and sing along, you’re not alone. Let your sorrow be short and may you find rest for your soul!