Do you know anyone who’s going through incredible difficulty, right now? Because of what they’re facing, these friends or family members have both lost hope and the ability to imagine a life that is blessed and free.
This is exactly where the people of Israel found themselves at the beginning of the book of Exodus. Even after hearing about the great deliverance God was about to execute on their behalf, Israel was down—way down—and unable to trust the future would be any different from the past.
Here’s a great summary from Exodus 6: “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.” (v.9, ESV) Moses came with a message of deliverance, but because of two factors, a “broken spirit” and “harsh slavery,” the people would not listen.
Notice the two-pronged torment. Their “broken spirit” was an internal condition and their “harsh slavery” was an external reality. They were crushed inside; and, their outside circumstances reinforced the devastation they felt.
In truth, the broken spirit is the bigger of the two problems. Not to diminish the excruciating pain of slavery, (most of us have no way to grasp how dehumanizing this would have been,) but the bigger issue is at the heart level. It always is. If Israel’s spirit had not been splintered, the cruelty of their forced labor could have seemed temporary instead of permanent.
We’ve all noticed how good news—even a tiny amount—in the midst of horrible circumstances can drastically change one’s outlook. The problem is that a broken spirit deafens us to the hope God offers whether we’re suffering from the harshness of the whip (like Israel) or the harshness of loneliness, loss, and rejection. Brokenness blinds.
How do we see what God is up to when were broken and oppressed? How do we catch a vision for a different kind of life when we’ve been bullied into believing we’ll always be captives? These kinds of situations defy the “4 Easy Steps” or “3 Quick Keys” type answers.
Rather than trying to escape the realities of “spirit brokenness,” our best course of action is to invite the “Promiser of a different future” into the “desperateness of the present hurt.” Instead of seeking to escape by our own strength or resigning ourselves to what feels “unchangeable,” might we not present our brokenness to God and ask Him to abide with us until His timing for deliverance is right?
Exodus 2:24 speaks of God’s attention. The text says He “heard” Israel’s groaning. Verse 25 further records “God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” (ESV) Let this sink in: God heard, God saw, and God knew what was happening to His own.
His awareness of us, our friends, and our plights is the same! He hears, sees, and knows our broken places!
If we will invite God into what feels hopeless, our healing will begin. A whole spirit so often precedes a transformed situation. Lives change from the inside out; and, the inside changes when we invite the God of all wisdom and miracles to come in!
Think about your friend—the one who’s really getting hammered by life or by the enemy. Our prayers and words are most helpful when we remind them to remember God hears, sees, and knows. We help facilitate their healing when we encourage them to invite the One who is Light into their darkness. He does His best spiritual surgery in the dark.
(And by the way, you’re allowed to stay with them, too. Don’t rush off. Sit down and wait for their deliverance…with them. Your companionship also ushers in hope!)