Promises are sacred to me. When I say I'm going to do something I follow through and if I can't follow through I usually don't commit. I expect the same treatment in return. Yet I find that there are many people out there who don't value their commitments as strongly as I do, or as strongly as God does.
Aren't you glad that when God says something that He means it and that He will follow through? Intellectually, we know these things, but practically it is a little harder to remain hopeful about a promise when we are tasked with difficult circumstances and God is taking His own sweet time in answering our prayers.
So where am I going with this anyway? Well, I finished the New Testament and am now back to the Old Testament once again. I"m excited about the storytelling of the Old Testament and what God will teach me through them this time around. I'm glad I've got friends like you to join me in the journey. Skipping Genesis, because I have recently studied it pretty well with the Beth Moore Patriarchs study, I'm finding myself in Exodus 1. The Patriarchs are long since gone and memories of Joseph in Egypt have faded. The children of Israel, after starting with only 70 (Ex 1:5) have now multilplied exceedingly and the Egyptians, worried about the Hebrews taking over, have started treating them harshly. However, no matter how terribly they were treated, the nation of Israel kept multiplying.
Yes, this is a nice story, and makes me reminisce about Charleton Heston & Yul Brenner in the original Ten Commandments, but what meaning does it have for my life and yours. Plenty, I say, if we look hard enough. This is a story about God finally fulfilling His promise to Abraham, about getting too comfortable in the place where we are, and about growing in faith through trying circumstances. I'll leave you with three principles that I pray you can apply to your lives as well.
1) God delivers. Although not in the timeframe we often expect, God always does what He says He will do. Abraham was promised that through his offspring all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 22:16-18). We start to see the fulfillment here in Exodus 1.
2) God won't allow us to get too comfortable. Remember that until the time the Egyptians started persecuting them, the Hebrews were pretty content in Egypt doing their thing. I wonder if the persecution was God's way of moving their nation to action because they had gotten complacent.
3) God blesses us even in the trials. The Hebrews couldn't help but multiply. Exodus 1:12 says "but the more they were afflicted, the more they multiplied and grew." What do you think the non-Christian world thinks when we Christians can stand with joy in the midst of our tribulations and grow stronger in our faith because God is helping us get through them? The blessing comes when we look inside ourselves and realize that God is still on the throne, we can trust Him completely, and our faith and witness grows because of our reliance on God.