But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. —Exodus 1:12 (NKJV)
There is no one who would say that they like adversity or any kind of difficulty in life. Why? Because we often feel and see the immediate unpleasantness of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re facing sickness, financial lack, strained relationships with a spouse, family member or friend, a difficult supervisor at work, the loss of a job or major savings, the purposeful attack of the enemy through a particular person and situation, you often wish you didn’t have to go through it.
I understand clearly that none of us like such unpleasantness. But I also learned that it is in these times if you embrace and manage it well and learn to view what’s happening from God’s perspective that you grow in manifold ways.
With this in mind, I seek to encourage you (as I did myself when studying the Word of God) to find the good in all life challenges and adversities. Be blessed as you read on.
In Exodus, the account of the Israelites, the oppression they faced and the glorious working of the Lord in their lives presents for us many lessons about adversity. Take the time the review these scriptures with new eyes, let God enlighten your understanding and I hope that you will walk through life stronger on account of this word today.
First of all recognize that adversity presents itself not by happenstance, the enemy is often using different strategies against Christians. We must learn to recognize them.
The enemy’s strategies involve:
• Keeping you bond (Ex. 1:10)
• Limiting your freedom (Ex. 1:10)
• Stunting your growth and that of the kingdom of God (Ex. 1:10)
• Enslaving you and forcing you work for him instead of serving God (Ex. 1:13-14)
• Confining you and keeping you under his control (Ex. 1:13-14)
• Stealing your joy by constantly oppressing you (Ex. 1:15-16)
• Destroying you and your family and by extension your future (Ex. 1:16)
What we experience in life is not easy and in this Christian walk it often seems more challenging but like Paul says in Romans 8: 31-39 (CJB) we are “super conquerors”. If this be so, that means we are gaining more than losing during difficulties. Look at what adversity can do for you (through the experience of the Israelites in Egypt)…
1. You will learn new skills (Ex. 1:11)
The Israelites went to Egypt as shepherds; an occupation that the Egyptians considered to be an abomination. As such they separated the Israelites by giving them the land of Goshen to live in. Under the oppression of this new Pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph, the Israelites were forced to learn skills – drafting, architecture, carpentry and other associated skills while building the treasure cities of Pitham and Ra’ames.
During adversity you will be forced to adapt and to learn new things. If you are in financial straits you may find the need to start a new career or a new business. You may have to acquire some business acumen to turn your hobbies into a viable business. If you find yourself constantly sick or with an illness for too long, you may be forced into praying and seeking God more for healing or you may need to restructure your health by changing your eating habits and exercising more. Adversity may even lead you to learn contentment and do without what you initially thought you could never live without. At times like these, your creative ability will come to the forefront and you’ll do things you never thought you could do.
2. You keep expanding and growing (Ex. 1:12)
Isn’t it interesting that the more afflictions the Israelites bore, the more they multiplied and grew? The aim of the Pharaoh was to stop the Israelites from growing as a nation. Most likely he thought that by oppressing them they would be too exhausted to even consider having time with their wives and building families.
Think of it, when you are facing challenges outside the home, it is often hard when you come home to the loving husband or wife or parent that you’d like to be. On many occasions if you don’t beware, your family life could suffer. When there is a breakdown in the family structure you could find yourself struggling. But thank God that in the midst of adversity, as Christians we recognize the importance of family life and as we bind closer together we grow, we become stronger – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. At times like this, God will draw family closer together and prayer will become the bedrock for your home and you and your family will grow stronger.
3. Your enemy fears you (Ex. 1:12)
I am sure that Pharaoh and his people couldn’t understand it. How could these people (Israelites) keep growing and even multiplying after all the hard labor they forced on them. The Egyptians not only couldn’t figure that out but they become afraid of these Hebrew people.
Isn’t that an oxymoron? The oppressor fears the oppressed rather than the oppressed/afflicted fearing the oppressor. This applies to you too. God will cause your enemies to fear you! The more afflicted you are, the more anointed you become the more the enemy fears you because under the fire of affliction you pray and fast even more than usual. The more you pray, the stronger you are. It may not seem that way in adversity and the attacks may even increase but that’s because the enemy sees you as a great and terrible threat to his agenda.
4. You will have the support of others (Ex. 1:17)
The midwives feared God and as a result disobeyed the direct orders of the Egyptian king to kill the Hebrew baby boys at birth. Their reverence or respect for God was far greater than the possible threat on their lives for not honoring Pharaoh’s instructions. Plus by doing this brave act, they showed their support and strengthen the Hebrews by indirectly protecting their children. As a result God noted their works and give them their own households.
It’s good to have others around who fear God and will honor Him by taking a stand for righteousness. When it gets tough those who remain faithful to God are by extension supporting you. Their actions may save you or someone else and boost your soul and spirit to keep moving forward regardless of your circumstances. God may even bring a “Johnathan” into your life that prays with you and supports you in various ways and at times when you really need it.
5. You could become someone’s deliverer (Ex. 2 & 3)
In the account of Israel’s hardship in Egypt, God raised up a leader to bring Israel out of slavery. During hardship it is hard to see a bright future and to believe that God is working behind the scenes. Indeed, it is true that hindsight is 20/20 vision. As you read through this word (Ex. 2-3), you learn that God is at work even while you are facing challenges planning how to get up into the “promised land” or the place of your dreams. In Israel’s case, God was making a leader in the midst of the very plot the Egyptians were using to destroy them! God used the love of a mother, the wit of a child, the desire of a woman to have children to save one boy who became Israel’s deliverer several years later.
Out of your difficulties, God may groom and lead someone to deliver you out of your troubles. However, God may even raise you up during your personal challenges to help others who are facing similar challenges. God may be calling you to be a “Joseph” or “Moses” for your community or even your nation. You would be amazed at how God will work through you to be a blessing to others.
I think these few nuggets show how you and I are more than conquerors through Christ. You will face difficulties, hardships, challenges in this life but through it all you will triumph. In the midst of living out your purpose, don’t let the adversities stop you from moving forward.
Now it’s your turn, please share one way some difficulty has been good for you. What didn’t you know about yourself before hardship showed up? Share and encourage others.