Archives For Grief


1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
    and by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
    they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
    let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
    you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
    and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and there is none to help.

12 Many bulls encompass me;
    strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
    like a ravening and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
    it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs encompass me;
    a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
    O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dog!
21     Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
    the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
    but has heard, when he cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
    May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
    and he rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
    before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
    even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
    it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
    that he has done it.

I saw a video[1] that said when Jesus quoted the beginning of Psalm 22 that he was using a rabbinic technique called “ramez” where the entire Psalm applies when Jesus mentions the first verse. I would like to believe that and it still may be true but the problem is that we do not have a shred of evidence to support this. It sounds more like something you would hear in a Rob Bell video (not slamming him but just sayin’) than you would in a commentary. Having said that, Psalm 22 is the most popular lament psalm in the entire psalter. Why? Jesus quoted this (already mentioned) in his prayer to God while dying on the cross (see Matthew 27:45-50). Yet this was first uttered by David hundreds of years before Christ died. It was a personal lament that placed him in perspective but also asked God the brutal question of “Why?”.

Why did he ask the brutal question? Certainly because of his enemies:

  • They mock him – v. 7
  • They are bulls surrounding him – v. 12
  • He experiences physical pain because of them – vv. 14-16
  • They divide his garments – v. 18

I am tempted to talk about Christ as Christ later exemplifies this in many aspects. Yet, David, in our context, is enduring much at the hands of many. He struggles with this not because the concept of impending pressure of enemies is uncommon but for David the struggle lies in the very nature of God himself. God, you are holy (v. 3), you answered our fathers when they cried (v. 5) and you protected and will protect your people but right now you have left me (v. 1), you are not answering me (v. 2) and because of this I find no rest.

Let’s stop for a minute and think about this. Have you ever felt like that before? I talk with teenagers all the time who experience in part what David experiences in whole. I hear comments like, “Robbie, it’s so hard to trust in God because it feels like he is not there and not listening.” If pressed they would probably admit that they feel like God has left them. Ever felt that way before? Ever experience that type of brokenness before?

What’s David’s solution?

Intense trust in God’s ETERNAL character (vv. 8-10), a request for his presence and deliverance (vv. 11, 19-21) and in all of this personal anguish he promises (fancy word is “vows”) to praise God (vv. 22-31).

You tracking with that?

David vows to praise God in the midst of impending destruction and intense physical, emotional and spiritual anguish. We think the world is going to end because a democrat got elected president but last time I check people don’t want our heads on a platter. Our issues are not even a blip on David’s radar. He would consider many of our issues as wastes of time. But even David said, “I will tell of your name…” (v. 22).

What would it look like for many of us who have cancer, terminal illnesses or many of us who have lost loved ones to proclaim in the midst of intense anguish, “I will tell of your name”?

“Yeah God, you have left us and I don’t fully understand it all but I trust in your divine purposes as one who created me (see vv. 9-10) and because of your infinite ways I will tell of your name.”

That is what you call BIG FAITH!

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does this psalm help in your ups and downs with God?
  2. Why praise God in the midst of intense suffering?
  3. In what ways does this entire psalm help inform you about Christ’s suffering and death?
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1 By the waters of Babylon,
    there we sat down and wept,
    when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
    we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
    required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
    “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

How shall we sing the Lord’s song
    in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
    let my right hand forget its skill!
Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth,
    if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
    above my highest joy!

Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites
    the day of Jerusalem,
how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,
    down to its foundations!”
O daughter of Babylon, doomed to be destroyed,
    blessed shall he be who repays you
    with what you have done to us!
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
    and dashes them against the rock!

Continuing our journey through some lament psalms we come to a particularly interesting category of lament psalms called community laments. Individual lament looks at individual problems where the community laments approach God from the standpoint of a group of people. The difference is that the psalmist intends on voicing the psalm as a representative of his people. Sins may be involved (aren’t they always ;)) but it is the sins of the people (i.e., collective disobedience) rather than specific sins of a person.

This particular psalm is voiced from the context of Babylonian captivity (i.e., Exile) and comes to us without a specified author.[1] Babylon took many of the people of Israel away (hence Exile) in the sixth century BCE and many of the Israelites would not return for decades (70 years?). This particular season brought many Israelites to two recognitions: 1) the brevity of their communal sin and 2) their dependence should not be in their own ability to write history but in the one who created it.

Notice in this Psalm the community is weeping and longs to return to Zion, the holy city. They find that they have to endure the context they are in but their understanding is that “this world is not their home” and Zion is the place they need to be both physically but ultimately, spiritually. Notice that they can’t even sing the “Lord’s song” in a land where the song is not recognized (v. 4). This land that they are in is filled with injustice as implied in verses 8-9 is that their little ones were dashed against rocks. Whether that’s literal or figurative does not take away from the fact that they are experiencing a communal low.

So what is their solution? Trust in God that he will repay their enemies for evil and to remind themselves of the hope that is protected in the memory of Jerusalem, their highest joy. I am reminded how important this psalm is as we find ourselves in post-election America. I will not go far as to say the U.S. is Babylon (some make a strong case for this) but I also am reminded that our hopes, our dreams, our greatest reality can never be in a human institution. The monarchy of Israel was never God’s intention nor is it his intention to wield the wills of his kingdom through the United States of America or any other human institution.

There is a sense where we all struggle with singing the Lord’s song in a foreign land. We all are living in tents and our temples have yet to be built. We read Scripture that reminds us (like Zion reminded the Psalmist) of better things. Our hope does not lie in parties, partisanship or policies. Our hope lies in the Kingdom of God. It always has, it always will.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some things your church community could possibly lament about?
  2. Why is it important to stick to the kingdom of God rather than human institutions?
  3. Why is it so hard to have a kingdom-vision for your community rather than a democratic, republican or whatever vision?

[1] Was this psalm written pre-Exile anticipating Babylonian captivity or was it post-Exile written during the experience of Exile? Not sure. In the end it does not matter as it seems the point is clear that the captivity was a cause to approach God and make their requests made known to him.


This week we plan on journeying through a category of psalms called Lament Psalms. If you could envision psalms of praise being the expressions of the heart at its most joyful point you might say that lament psalms are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Lament psalms are those expressions of the psalmist that come from moments of deep angst, torment and often fear. Have you ever had a moment where you were so confused and had no clue as to what God was doing? In walks the lament psalm. Typically there are two types of lament psalms: individual laments (these are personal) and laments of the people (these are communal or corporate).

Think of it this way: there are some seasons in our lives where we are individually going through painful experiences and so we take (i.e., “lament”) these expressions to God but then things happen to us corporately (church, nation, etc.) that cause us to “lament” expressions to God. Laments vary in form but typically will have a few (some have all) of the components below:[1]

  1. Address and Introductory Petition
  2. Lament
  3. Confession of Trust
  4. Petition
  5. Vow of Praise

You can even divide the Psalms of Lament into their own subcategories: 1) prayer songs of the individual, 2) community prayer songs and 3) thanksgiving songs.[2] There is a lot more we could do to unpack these psalms as far as form and function but at the core of these psalms lies a basic truth: It’s ok to be real with God. Did you catch that?

IT’S OK TO BE REAL WITH GOD!!!

We live in a Western Culture that hides behind facades, masks and lies to cover real heart issues. The people of God has always been able to express their doubts, fears, frustrations, anger and other raw emotions to God knowing that he is the only one who can place those fears into their proper contexts. Perhaps you have heard a preacher pound the lectern while preaching proclaiming, “We should never, ever doubt the ways of God!” That’s kind of funny when you read what David wrote in Psalm 22, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” I guess David was weak in his faith right?

Or maybe David had an intense faith knowing that God understands our hearts so we might as well be brutally honest and place those laments at the feet of the Almighty God! Bullock has an amazing comment that we would be wise to read… and re-read:

While the boldness and naked honesty of the psalmists may shock us, this attitude is nevertheless instructive for our spiritual lives. We sometimes hold back too much from God, conceal our true feelings in prayer, and create a false image of ourselves at the heavenly throne of grace. What would happen to us and to our relationship to God if we were truly honest with him and with ourselves?[3]

I think many of us know the answer to Bullock’s question: our relationship would strengthen and become as deep as it is wide. So this week we are going to journey through some lament psalms and talk about our own struggles. But… some questions for discussion…

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do we tend to mask our true feelings from God?
  2. Does doubt have its place in the Christian faith? Why or why not?
  3. What are some experiences in your life that led you to lament to God?

[1] Bullock, Encountering the Book of Psalms, 136.

[2] Ibid., 138.

[3] Ibid., 138.

Divine Encounters

November 8, 2011 — 2 Comments

I work at the YMCA Monday-Tuesday from 5am-8am to make a little extra cash on the side and it helps pay for my membership.  In the few months I have been there I have experienced a few divine encounters that have left me in mourning at how people hurt.  I call them divine encounters not because I meet the divine face-to-face but because I believe God places me in that situation to be present with someone in their deep anguish.

In walks Doug (not his real name but we will call him Doug).  Doug has come to the Y now for a couple of months and he always has the greatest smile on his face and greets me with the warmth only a Krispe Kreme doughnut could bring.  Whenever I say, “How are you doing?” I know that his usual “I am doing really well” is an honest answer not rehearsed for trite conversation.  He means it. Today Doug was leaving the Y and wanted some coffee but he was waiting on the fresh decaffeinated coffee I was brewing.  So I made short conversation.

“Beautiful day isn’t it?” With a smile he said, “Absolutely gorgeous.  I am going to go play a round of golf after this.”  “I wish I could go,” I said.  “I used to play a lot but with four kids six and under golfing is one of those things that is taken off the list.  I got to have my priorities.  I am a dad first.”

What he said next I was not ready for…

“You definitely have your priorities straight.  I lost two kids in the span of nine months so cherish each moment that you have with them because you never know when it will be your last.”

My heart broke.  I wanted to cry, give him a hug and pray with him on the spot.  The amount of pain this man has endured cannot be expressed in words.  All I could say was, “I am so sorry.”

I stepped away and did a few things then I walked back because I couldn’t let the awkwardness of that conversation get between an opportunity to just be present with this man so I asked him, “How long ago was this?”  I acted like I was cleaning something beside the coffee so I could mask the desire to be close to this man.

“My youngest son died of colon cancer when he was only 21.  That was back in 1997.  Then nine months almost to the day later my oldest son died in a car accident.”

“I am so sorry,” I muttered in obvious nervousness since I really did not know what to say.  “I guess you play golf as a release?”  He answered, “Yeah but the important thing is that I have to be around people.”  The next question I asked floored me, “Did you have any other kids?”  He said, “No, that was it.”

That was it…

Three words that evoked more pain, anguish and sorrow than I have ever experienced.  In a span of nine months this man goes from having a wonderful family full of promise to just he and his wife.  I prayed for Doug.  I now have perspective when each day he tells me that he is doing really well.  I now understand that people have different levels of pain that they experience and we all assume that everybody is OK.

Doug is a great guy.  I hope he gets to see his boys some day.

Pretty sure I met Job this morning.

Sorry…

August 21, 2011 — 2 Comments

Normally I am good about posting and keeping up with the blog and my vlog but this week has been tough.  My wife’s cousin went missing in rural North Central Arkansas and this past Sunday they found his body.  We attended the funeral services this week and between the emotions, driving and other work related things I just did not feel like blogging or vlogging.  Barry Treadway (my wife’s cousin) was only 27 and he left behind a legacy of faith and friendship.  One story that struck out to me was that he was in the process of studying the bible with a former gang member who said that Barry impacted his life in a tremendous way.  This brought me to the realization of two things:

  1. Like the Ecclesiastes writer said, life is but a vapor as it comes and goes without our control.  At any point our world can be turned upside down and we are not in the seat of control to say whether we want this to happen or not.
  2. What will be our legacy?  I know that is a typical preacher thing to say but I could not help but to think about what we leave behind.  Will people remember us as disciples of Christ or something else?

Death is a sobering blow to the cycle of boredom and apathy.  It rocks all of us to the core.  It is one appointment that none of us can escape (Heb. 9:27) and it is best to make sure we are doing everything to follow the will of the one who sent us.  See you this week as I hope to post more.


Does the Bible offer hope to teenagers who live with emotional and spiritual pain?  What about all the suffering that exists in the world today?  What can we do as Christians to help others through these tough times?  In this post I want to share with you a few different ways to explain to teens how to endure pain and what God is ultimately doing to evil and suffering in the end.

The problem of our pain and suffering has a source and if we do not understand that source then we will not understand the solutions that God provides.  The problem that exists in this world is sin.  If we do not place the blame on sin, then we will not understand the answers God provides in the Bible.  Sin is the cause and reason for pain and suffering.

Sin began in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:6).  We find in the rest of Genesis 3 that every area of life was dramatically affected by sin.  This sin has touched the world around us.  The entire message of the Bible from Genesis 3 on is how God is dealing with this sin problem.  Let us look at some of the solutions to this problem.

The first solution to the problem of evil and suffering is to understand your purpose.  The Bible tells us that our purpose is to know God (Philippians 3:10).  This may not give a solution but it may give you motivation to endure what you are going through.  There are two ways to find a purpose in your suffering.  The first is to know that God wants you holy, not happy (1 Peter 1:15).  This may mean that the suffering that is taking place is intended to make you a better person.  God does not care how happy you are if you are leading a life that will end up in hell!  The suffering that comes from our personal sin helps us turn back to God.  We must also remember that some of the things we endure make us look to a loving, heavenly Father for answers.  Another perspective from your purpose of knowing God is that the pain and suffering may be a test of spiritual maturity.  Do you love God for God’s sake, or for what you get from God?  Much of the pain we endure can bring about glory for God or can remind us about spiritual truths.  Death is a reminder of our short time on earth.  Suffering as a Christian can be a testament to others who see our faith.  Just enduring suffering with an understanding that God still loves us is an amazing tool for evangelism and encouragement.  These two areas of knowing God help us to look at pain, evil, and suffering differently.

The second solution to pain and suffering is that we need to understand that on the cross, Jesus did the ultimate judo move to sin.  If sin is the ultimate enemy, then what Jesus accomplished on the cross defeats its power.  What is the essence of the marital art of judo?  To use your enemy’s strengths against them!  Think about what Jesus does for us on the cross.  1) He defeated all the political evil that exists in the world.  He was tried and found guilty unjustly by Pontius Pilate.  2)  He also defeated all the religious evils.  The Pharisees and Sadducees called for his arrest and crucifixion.  3)  All the Satanic evil was defeated.  Satan entered Judas’ heart to turn Jesus over to the authorities.  These three areas were turned against themselves with Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection three days later.  There is hope for us all in the fact that the cross took the evil in the world and defeated it!

The third area is my personal favorite.  We need to understand that in the end God makes everything new!  Revelation 21:5 says this, “And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’”  Stop and think about this for just a second.  God does not say, “Behold, I am making all new things.”  What God says is that “I am making all things new,” in that order.  God, in the end, takes all that is wrong in the world and put it back to what is right!  Romans 8 gives an even clearer picture when it says in verse 21, “that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”  Even the evils that fall on us from the physical world will be made right in the end!  The final message of the Bible is that in the end, God makes everything new!  What has existed in this sinful, broken world will be made right in the end.  Isn’t that more of what we long for than just a simple answer in the midst of our suffering?  

 As we close, I am reminded of the words of C. S. Lewis when we think of the day when Christ returns and turns all that is wrong back to the way God wants it to be.  Lewis says, “they say of some temporal suffering, ‘no future bliss can make up for it,’ not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.”   Today, we eagerly wait for that glory and we need to understand that with Christ’s work on the cross all pain, evil, and suffering has been defeated!

Barry Throneberry has been the youth and family minister at the Highland Church of Christ for over 8 years.  He is married to Rebecca Schwartz Throneberry and writes a blog called Theology with Throneberry.  He is also part of the team that does the Studentminister.com podcast.  His interests are in the areas of Theology, Spiritual Disciplines, and Apologetics.

Aphesis 5 (Letting God)

February 18, 2011 — Leave a comment

Whew!!!  We got a lot of theology that we unpacked (not nearly as much as we could have) and now let’s get practical.

I hate stripped-bolts, screws or rounded oil-drain plugs.  I have encountered them at various junctures of my life but I met a nasty one underneath my van a couple of weeks ago when I was changing the oil.  Apparently I put the drain plug on too tight and it had rusted a smidgen so the more I tried to get the thing off with a socket-wrench, the more the plug became rounded.  So I went to my tool-box and tried a couple of things to no avail so I did some research and found out that I needed some Vise-Grips to get the plug off.  Perfect, because I had some in the house…or so I thought.  One of my kids misplaced them (probably near the lost city of Atlantis) so I had to go to Lowe’s to purachase another set.  I got home, clamped the rounded plug and voila…it came off.  Why did it come off?  Because I’ve got mad skills!!!

In a sad way we approach our spirituality, marriages and relationships with the notion that we can fix everything like a complex problem.  If we can create nuclear energy, the lunar module and the hydrogen bomb then surely we have the capabilities to fix things on our own.  The truth is that a relationship with God does not work on the basis of us fixing things.  Yes we repent of sins…yes we confess our faults…we we are required to do things (see James 2) but the truth is that nothing can be done without God.  Forgiveness functions in that realm of God-only and it is something our problem-solving mentalities has to give up.  We have to let God do what ONLY God can do.

“But you don’t know what I have done Robbie.  If you only knew the depths of my sin then you would understand why God would not want to forgive me!”  Really?  Are you going to carry that guilt with you to the grave and perhaps hell because you can’t believe God would/can forgive you?  Have you not opened your Bible?  Have you not heard of Abraham lying, David committing adultery and Peter denying Christ and every single one of those were forgiven?  Have you not heard about the nation of Israel?  Maybe you just do not want to face reality because this sin in your life has been there and to really let this thing go would mean to move on from it.  In some confusing way forgiveness to you is not a possibility because this sin has been your friend for so long.

Scripture is chalk-full of stories of God’s redemptive forgiveness to all kinds of people regardless of class, race, situation or story.

No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

From the least to the greatest is Hebrew hyperbole for saying, “everyone.”  Are you afraid of what might happen if you let God forgive you?  Do you think he will take you places you are not sure you are ready to go?  That is not a God-problem…that is a me-problem.  God is ready to let things go but the question is, “Are you ready to let God?”


I went into my room last night and saw a small cassette tape on the table.  We are long past the age of cassette tapes so I was curious about this and I picked up and noticed that it was a sermon I preached while I was an intern at Washington Avenue church of Christ in the summer of 2002.  I came to the church building this morning and searched for a cassette player and as I am typing this I am listening to my sermon entitled, “The Christian Soldier.”  It is a humbling task listening to the way I preached years ago because I thought I was a good preacher back then.  Some of the phrases I used and the theology I purported I think to myself, “How could I have been that naive?”  I even preached from the King James Version of Scripture!!!  I write this to you because it is not a bad thing to look at the skeletons in our closet. 

  • Looking at our past helps to shape us.
  • Looking at our past helps to comfort us and how far we have grown.
  • Looking at our past helps to center us if we have fallen. 

So what skeletons do you need to look at and get rid of in your closet?  What are those pet sins you have that keep you from a relationship with God?  So often we do not look at what’s deep in our hearts because we are scared at what we might find.  If we are scared to look at what’s inside then that should be a pause for concern.  A problem neglected is a spiritual life infected.  Think about that…I just made it up :).  A problem neglected is a spiritual life infected.  If I have a mold problem in my foundation neglecting it does not change it but actually the problem gets worse. 

So open your closet door, and get the skeletons out.  In honor of the KJV and my sermon…

“Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?  But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.  For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:  These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matt. 15:17-20). 


Father in heaven there is a lot going on in my life that needs cleansing and healing.  First of all, allow me to accept those things which are new and embrace them with open arms.  It is difficult to think about what lies ahead but I understand that there is no guarantee for any of us.  Health is a blessing and I am always one heart attack, stroke or accident away from meeting you and so I am blessed to be where I am at right now.  Protect my kids and give me the knowledge to train them in loving you not by word only but in a relationship that interacts with you.  Father please be with the college students and help them to grow closer to you but allow them to do so in a way that is genuine.  Many of them are meeting potential spouses or are looking for potential spouses and I ask that you give them the knowledge to choose wisely.  Father the youth group needs your help as Satan is excellent at what he does.  There is too much temptation out there and I am afraid much of our youth are succumbing to this so please help them with the power of your Son.  Father help Main Street to have new life in 2011 and allow us to grow spiritually but even numerically.  We do not need to settle for second best as too much is at stake for us to simply be content and ride off in the sunset.  Father help us in this year to be ready for the deaths, the injuries, the accidents, the sins, the mistakes, the broken relationships and the foolish decisions we inevitably will make.  Also, Father, through your Spirit, allow us/me to accept the new possibilities and fully embrace them regardless of the consequences.  Deliver us O Lord, according to your ceaseless love.  Amen.


You know the story in Exodus 5 about how Pharoah hardened the people’s task by making the same quota of bricks as before but this time the people of Israel could not use straw which helped bond the clay and the mud to make a solid brick.  This was too much for the Israelites and they became enraged with Moses (God too?)…listen to their piercing words:

“May the Lord look upon you and judge you!  You have made us a stench to Pharoah and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (5:21)

Their slavery was hard and their oppression was great but at least they could manage it but now this radical named Moses has stirred the pot and now the people will have to go through so much more in order to be free.  This gets to Moses and he laments:

 “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people?  Is this why you sent me?  Ever since I went to Pharoah to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”  (5:22-23)

Have you ever felt this way?  We are not oppressed like the people of Israel but often we are quick to judge the Lord’s response time based on our impatience.  Sometimes we just like the way things have always been.  When the Lord does something to one of us and causes us to do things differently we do not enjoy this new “blessing” because it has done nothing but brought grief and trouble. 

New things are sometimes paradoxical in application because it is both good and bad.  Perhaps the new things God does in our lives are neither good nor they are bad…it is God’s will.  Why does God’s will have to be one or the other?  God reminded Moses of his covenant and these words provided assurance for Moses:

“…I will redeem you with an outstreched arm…” (6:6)