You know, I did not grow up respecting struggle. The Lord carved out my beginnings with great care, and set my life in safe environments — good church, stable influences, godly home and parents — without much drama. I did not “go through” a lot. In fact, I was quite sheltered and protected. What I did not encounter in natural battles (e.g., abuse, moving around a lot, sicknesses, etc.) I felt intensely in mental and emotional battles. I guess my testing was on different ground.
It was not until I started making friends and meeting people — even from early grade school — that I realized everyone did not have the benefit of a safe beginning. From then it’s been a continual school of compassion for me to know people up close and from afar who endure affliction with great grace and reflect God’s power to deliver.
The Lord, in His infinite wisdom (remember that phrase anyone?), knows how to chart our course and give us all we need to reach for Him, accept His call and stay in the process of becoming like Him. Job 23:10 (CJB) seems appropriate here,
“Yet he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come out like gold.”
I want to share a thought from my morning devotional about Jesus modeling for us the struggle with and way out of Egypt. It begins with a question of God’s ability — wasn’t He able to protect His Son from Herod? Joseph took Mary and Jesus and fled to Egypt. In this God showed that “from the beginning Jesus’ way is a way of persecution” (Bonhoeffer, p. 9).
Bonhoeffer then makes the connection between the plight of the Hebrews in Egyptian bondage, and Jesus traveling that same way but toward a redemptive end. “The king is now supposed to be where his people were…to experience the history of his people in his own body” (p. 9). Like His people who lived in adversity in Egypt, Jesus begins in Egyptian adversity. God sending Joseph, Mary and Jesus into Egypt was “not blind chance but divine promise and fulfillment” (p. 9).
In Egypt Jesus unites with the sufferings of His people, of us too. He begins in a strange land with us, and with Him we “move out of a foreign land and into God’s land” (p. 9).
This blessed me beyond measure to realize Jesus came as our High Priest. His adult years were not the sum total of His experience with us; even the time for which we cannot account specifically was spent in and on purpose to keep a link open to us. His struggle from the beginning — the flight to Egypt to save His life — caused Him to identify with our earliest challenges. Take comfort today, Royal Ones, and know that our God has a way that results in this divine and abundant life He gives to us. Herod will die. There is a definite way out of Egypt. And the Christ child will redeem us all.
Selah. Love you dearly.