As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, `Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!'”
But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Exodus 14:10-14
Just stay calm? Really? We don’t want those words. Not when the world is crashing in or our plans are falling a part. We had almost made it, we were almost there. And then…the feared or the unforeseen. The worst that could happen. No worse than the worst. Everything is not as it should be and all has gone wrong.
This is when we like to blame. This is when we second-guess: when things seem inevitable—as if anything is unavoidable with God! The more I read through Exodus the more I see us in the Israelites. They are who we are.
When all the pain and cost is on the Egyptians the Israelites are all about leaving. They love the idea and accept what is given. But not when they have to pay. They didn’t like that at the beginning when the work load is increased and not here when it seems that Pharaoh will catch them again. No, now they blame. Now they deny that they ever had dreams of more than slavery or wants beyond being oppressed.
Why is it that we are afraid to dream unless there are guarantees involved? Why do we fear failing in when seeking God’s best for us? Can it really be failing if we falter in a pursuit of God and his Promised Land for us? Is it not success simply to go when he says go?
The Israelites have just made it out and here is Pharaoh, bearing down on them again and they are afraid. And just like us they lash out, they cry out, they blame and become fatalists. And Moses has words that no one wants to hear in a crisis.
Don’t be afraid.
Of course we are afraid! Why would we not be afraid? We are afraid of the worst happening. Afraid of failing. Afraid of seeing our dreams be so close and then have them ripped away again. But if we are on God’s journey and he is leading, then doesn’t it make sense that we not fear?
When a crisis strikes we like to “do” things, don’t we. Anything. Doing at least makes us feel like we have some semblance of control. Ah, and there’s the problem, isn’t it? We like control. Watch the Lord? But that means keeping my focus on him instead of my crisis. That means relying on him instead of myself.
Just stay calm.
As I said, we don’t want to hear this when things are falling a part. Especially when we are anything but calm! But the truth is that Moses is right. If God has called us, if God is leading us, if God is God at all, we should be more calm. Not uncaring or disengaged. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hurt or feel disappointment. But panic? No, we shouldn’t panic. Blame others when things are crashing in? Assume the worst and resign ourselves to some fatalistic outcome? These things we shouldn’t do; we shouldn’t become.
The greatest display of our faith isn’t just found in the choosing to follow at the beginning, but also in the continued following, in the response to crisis situations that arise. It is found in how we live the journey each day, whether a good or bad day. Whether an expected day, or something we don’t know how to handle.
Just stay calm…and let God do what he will do. We have nothing to fear.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39