Exodus 14:10-12 “As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have brought us to the desert to die?’ What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
What could a nation of slaves and shepherds do against the experienced army of Egypt and its chariots? Attack with their sheep? Hope that their goats might chew the Egyptians to death? In spite of the miracles they had seen the Lord perform in Egypt, they were convinced that now they were going to die.
Are we free from such a defeatist attitude? We, too, paint doomsday scenarios because our enemies and obstacles look bigger than us. That might seem like a perfectly logical reaction if it weren’t for one thing: We aren’t fighting alone. Is anyone or anything bigger than our God? If we lift our eyes and look a little higher than the problems sitting in front of us, we will find the comfort of having him on our side. All the fear and terror and despair our various enemies show us will melt under his love and promises.
But the more convinced we are that we are going down in defeat, the more the blame game gets going. “What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians?” Really? Is that what they said? Exodus chapter 2 records them singing a different tune. “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God” (2:23).
So it is that just when we need each other the most, when we should be pulling together and working as a team, our failure to look to the Lord drives us apart. History is littered with examples of families fractured in the face of enemies like life threatening diseases or financial hardships. Instead of pulling together, they blame each other for their misery. Churches are pulled apart when members fail to rally together to tackle moral issues or meet their stewardship challenges. Too much time is spent on who’s to blame, too little on how to fix it. Alone against our enemies, divided by fear and accusation, all we can see is defeat.
Worse still, we are tempted to stop following God’s plans. “It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert.” Stop and think about what they were saying. Who had led them into this predicament? Maybe it didn’t seem sensible, humanly speaking, to journey out into the desert until they were pinned against a vast body of water with the chariots of Egypt hot on their tail. But hadn’t they been led to just this spot, to just this situation, to just this time and place by the Lord himself? He led them into this mess. Couldn’t he be trusted to lead them back out?
If we will only lift our eyes, and look a little higher than the enemy that is staring us in the face, we will be able to see the wisdom of doing it God’s way. If we bolt and run, if we abandon God’s plans for our lives, no matter how strange or hard to understand, our faith becomes easy prey for the Archenemy.
But God’s grace can remove the weight that is holding our heads down and keeping us from looking to him. It can lift our heads to see that the Lord is working on our side. And when we look higher, he shows us deliverance. He doesn’t abandon us though we are tempted to abandon him. He hasn’t given up on us though we have rebelled against him. We are his children. He paid dearly to make us his own. He has no intention of losing us now.
And he can use the very obstacles we face as the means to save us. Look up! Deliverance is on its way.