Broken, Anguished Spirits

from Lynda Lindsey

So they (the Egyptians) ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. Exodus 1:13-14 

Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the people of Israel. Aaron spoke all the words that the Lord had spoken to Moses and did the signs in the sight of the people. And the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord had visited the people of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped. Exodus 4:29-31

Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery. Exodus 6:9 

The people of Israel had fallen from the status of Pharaoh’s honored guests receiving preferential treatment, to the insignificance of slaves, their lives made bitter with harsh, grinding, bone-wearying exhausting labor. Their male babies were cruelly killed in the Nile River, the people were afflicted with heavy burdens, taxed with harsh working conditions, accused of idleness, suffered beatings, and were ruthlessly oppressed. Beyond discouraged, they were in anguish, broken in heart and spirit. 

When Moses and Aaron first informed the people that the Lord had seen their affliction and heard their cries for help, they gratefully bowed to God in worship. But things got worse before they got better; the next time Moses spoke, people didn’t listen, so overwhelmed were they by their anguish. Anguish, excruciating mental or physical suffering, affects the mind and spirit as well as the body. Pressure constricts blood vessels and air passages, affecting the heart and lungs. The body labors to even breathe. God’s people, utterly miserable, felt abandoned. Trust in God? Why? Where is He in all this? 

Under sustained pressure we can lose hope just as the Hebrew slaves did. In the face of overwhelming injustice it’s difficult to trust that God not only has a plan, but is working out His plan. But we are people who walk by faith, not by sight. Our God is trustworthy. His will cannot be defeated, not by any kingdom or power, not by any enemy or authority. God is for us. Doubts may assail us, doubts will assail us, but we must consciously choose faith, practice faith, and in like manner, practice rejecting doubt. Like seeing through new eyeglasses that have a sharp, clear focus, focus on Jesus. Jesus understands—-He faced the anguish of the cross for us.