April 01, 2016

The School of Suffering

Exodus 1

The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly.

—  Exodus 1:12-13

Have you ever heard that suffering and hardship are training for life? I have. And I’ve often thought to myself, “There has to be a better way to get an education!” I have to be careful about that, though, because God often uses suffering and hardship to shape and train people for life and mission. 

We see God doing just that in our text for today. The yet-to-be-organized nation of Israel lived through deep suffering as the Egyptians ruthlessly subjected them to slavery.

What did Israel learn through their suffering? The text doesn’t tell us specifically, but my guess is that they learned that life under Pharaoh was not a good life. That lesson would prepare them for life under a new master, the God of Abraham. God would not only rescue them from slavery but set them up with an important mission in the land he had promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:12-21).

This month we’ll focus on Moses, whom God chose to lead that nation. He too would suffer, and God would use Moses’ suffering to train him for his leadership role. God used other things to train Moses too, of course, and Moses’ education will lead us to reflect on how God trains us for what will come in our life and how we can serve him.

How is God equipping you?

Lord, open our eyes to see, our ears to hear, and our hearts to obey all you have to teach us. Send us, equipped but humble, into life and mission. Amen.

About the author — David Den Haan

Pastor Dave Den Haan has served at Fairway Christian Reformed Church in Jenison, Michigan, since 1999. Previously he served a church in Minnesota. Dave and his wife, Connie, have three children.

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