By Lisa Huddleston
“Thus says Pharaoh, ‘I will not give you straw. Go and get your straw yourselves wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced in the least’” (Exodus 5:10-11).
“How do you respond when you are faced with a task that appears to be impossible?” I recently asked that question on my facebook wall, and the posts came fast and furiously. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had experienced this feeling. Many of my friends recommended a headlong dive into the pantry. Food seemed to be the number one source of comfort. Ice cream! Chocolate! Even spinach dip and chips! Oh yeah. I could relate to this reaction all too well, but with my focus being “disicipline” in 2011, I couldn’t let my heart or head go in that direction.
Other friends took the spiritual high road reminding me that “all things are possible with God.” And while I had to acknowledge that this thought was beneficial—it is scripture after all—I wanted to protest that it simply wasn’t true in this case. Some things really were impossible! For example, I could never become a slim 20-year-old again no matter how hard I tried or willed it to be so. But that wasn’t the point, and I knew they were doing their best to encourage me no matter how much I wanted to snap back. After all, I’d used the very same words of encouragement many times myself.
What was driving me to such despair, you ask? I am currently taking an accelerated course in my graduate studies program—an entire 3 credit hour class in one month—and I simply feel as though I don’t have what I need to accomplish successfully what is being required of me. Because I attend an extension campus, I don’t have a library to supply all the necessary resources, and I don’t have the time or money to order the many books that could help me. Like the Israelites, I feel as though I am scurrying all over doing my best to gather stubble. But even with all of the physical tools, I don’t feel as though I have the mental know how to get the job done. And that is the part that is really driving me crazy! How can I make bricks without straw?
How did the Israelites respond to their impossible task? They acted a lot like I am. First, they complained loudly! The foremen went to Pharaoh and said, “The fault is your own people.” After all, the Egyptians weren’t giving them what they needed. When this tactic failed, they turned to Moses and Aaron. Rather they turned on Moses and Aaron saying, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants.” Amen! I hate to stink at my work, too.
Finally, Moses turned to the Lord. No, it wasn’t in a sweet and holy attitude of prayer. No, he didn’t piously declare that he knew that God could do all things. Instead he hollered, “God, why are you doing this to me?” Oh yes. Now there is a word I can relate to right now.
How did the Lord respond? Did lightning strike? Did Moses suddenly disappear with a “poof?” No. God said, “Great. You’re just where I want you. Wait and see what I’m going to do to Pharoah. After all, I am the Lord.”
Everything didn’t suddenly get better for the Israelites or for Moses either. In fact, things even got worse. But that didn’t change the fact that God was in control and that ultimately his promises would come true.
Do I believe that God has put me in this course of study? Absolutely. I’ve already seen a lot of fruit and have felt his affirmation. Does that mean that I will do well in this particular class? Absolutely not. But I will get through it—either I will discover some way as yet unknown to accomplish my assignments or the calendar will graciously move me into February and a new class. One way or another, this too shall pass, and as my kids tell me, “C’s still get degrees.” To God be the glory!