Birth | Devotion 2: Finding (His) Good in the Bad
Have you ever experienced a hostile takeover at work? We hear about them in the news but do most people ever experience this? My husband had been working for a company for about ten years. He decided he was ready for a change and after months of interviewing settled on what he thought was going to be a great opportunity. Less than six months after being with them, the company was bought out. A hostile takeover can sound like an exaggeration, but when you are in the middle of it, it feels like a pretty good description. The new owners changed the entire direction of the company, and after less than a year Greg was looking for a new job. The end result: we had to sell a beautiful new house, move to the west side of Michigan, and live in my grandparent’s lake house until he found a new job. We were catapulted into a difficult two-year journey.
In Exodus 1:1-14, we see the Jewish people living in Goshen, Egypt. Decades earlier, Joseph brought his entire family out of Canaan to Egypt because of a famine. Joseph became a second ruler there. He was highly favored by Pharaoh and respected by the Egyptian people. Joseph and all his family lived well in their new home. In verse 8, we learn of their hostile take over. A new king rose up, and because he believed the Jewish nation was a threat, he looked for ways to control them. The Jewish people found themselves ruthlessly working as slaves. The king wanted to control the growth of their people in an effort to secure his position.
As I read this passage of Scripture, my attention was drawn to verse 12: “But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad.” In this one verse, we find three incredible truths about the God we serve. The first truth is that no matter what the world dishes out and no matter how painful our circumstances, God ALWAYS keeps His promises.
The promise God made to Abraham in Genesis chapter 15, Isaac in Genesis chapter 26, and Jacob in Genesis chapter 28 continued to be fulfilled in spite of the circumstances. Under incredible oppression, the Jewish nation grew tremendously.
As a new Christian, I am sure the enemy meant to destroy me and my new commitment to Christ through very difficult circumstances. My God kept His promise found in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you, will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus.” Though there were times I was ready to walk away, He pursued me and hung on to me.
The second truth we see is that with God we can experience His blessings in the midst of our suffering. In this Scripture, we read about the growth in the physical strength of the Jewish people. Though the Scripture does not specifically say, I can only imagine the personal spiritual growth they must have experienced as they drew close to God in prayer to seek strength and understanding. In the pit of despair, believers often come to know God in a way they never have before. The biggest blessing in my two-year journey was a day to day walk with Christ. I knew Christ as my Savior prior to it all, but my pain and fear drove me to prayer and ultimately to a Bible teaching church.
The third truth is that God uses our experiences, good and bad, to prepare us for the work He has for us to do. The task of the Jewish nation was always to show the existence of the One True Living God and to be instrumental in bringing the Savior of the world, to the world. The trials of the Jewish people throughout the Bible are a testimony to His presence, protection, provision, mercy, love, and judgment. As I reflect on those difficult years and share my testimony with others, I can personally testify to who Jesus is, how He has worked in my life, and our absolute need for a Savior. Our special task is no different than the Jewish people: to share all that He is and all that He does to a lost world. Who is better to share than those who know His love and desire to serve Him in spite of their pain?
When we are in the midst of the trials of this world, we must fight the forsaken feelings of our flesh and focus on truth, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
There is a popular saying that I have come to love: “Bloom where you are planted.” Although this phrase is not in the Bible, it reminds me of the truths from this Scripture. As believers, we can grow through the tough things in this life as long as we know His promises, claim His promises, cling to Him, and look for His presence in all situations.