Helpless but not Hopeless

When the children of Israel suffered under the bondage of slavery, it was difficult for them to imagine anyone with more power than Pharaoh. He was the classic example of a bully–using his power to make himself look and feel greater, by oppressing those under his authority. The Israelites had no recourse, no avenue for justice, no mode of submitting an appeal. They were doomed to suffer whatever Pharaoh decreed. He knew this, and he relished this kind of “absolute” power. It did not matter how the Israelites behaved, they were all treated with equal brutality, for the primary factor was racial. Pharaoh could force them into service, because they lived in his country but were not of his race.  Their fate seemed to be sealed, their suffering endless.

I can relate to these feelings of helplessness. When Moses stood before the burning bush and God declared, “I’ve heard my people’s cries and I’m sending you to demand that Pharaoh let them go,” I can understand why Moses thought this was an impossible assignment. Who could stand against the system? Who could win against such ingrained, established cruelty. Who could set a people free who suffered without hope or expectation of any change?

Sometimes in our family’s current situation, it is easy to feel as if we are under the control of a system like Egypt and Israel. Probation, though in Joel’s case, a consequence of his sin and crime, often feels like slavery, holding him (and us)  in bondage as a result of the past, being forced to face that past day after day. Furthermore, it can seem like an insurmountable, established system, with no hope for change.  Hopelessness lurks at the door of our minds and hearts as the crushing reality bears down on us.

But something one of our pastors said a few weeks ago in church, really resonates with me, and when I feel the darkness of our situation closing in around me, I remember, “We may be helpless, but we are not hopeless.” The God who overruled Pharaoh and brought Israel into a land flowing with milk and honey is the same God who hears our cries. And while it may seem that our fate is determined by a system, by a standard, by status quo, in truth, our fate is in the hands of our own almighty creator God, who never uses his power to bully, but always to establish His glory and our good. That means even when it doesn’t feel like it, He is in the process of rescuing us from ourselves and from the evil of this world.

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