March 12

“So Moses extended his staff over the land of Egypt, and then the Lord brought an east wind on the land all that day and all night. The morning came, and the east wind had brought up the locusts! and the Lord turned a very strong west wind, and it picked up the locusts and blew them into the Red Sea. Not one locust remained in all the territory of Egypt.” Exodus 10:13,19

See how in the olden times, when the Lord fought for Israel against the cruel Pharaoh, the stormy winds wrought out their deliverance; and yet again, in that grandest display of power—the last blow that God struck at the proud defiance of Egypt. A strange, almost cruel thing it must have seemed to Israel to he hemmed in by such a host of dangers—in front the wild sea defying them, on either hand the rocky heights cutting off all hope of escape, the night of hurricane gathering over them. It was as if that first deliverance had come only to hand them over to more certain death. Completing the terror there rang out the cry: “The Egyptians are upon us!”

When it seemed they were trapped for the foe, then came the glorious triumph. Forth swept the stormy wind and beat back the waves, and the hosts of Israel marched forward, down into the path of the great deep—a way arched over with God’s protecting love. On either hand were the crystal walls glowing in the light of the glory of the Lord; and high above them swept the thunder of the storm. So on through all that night; and when, at dawn of the next day, the last of Israel’s host set foot upon the other shore, the work of the stormy wind was done. Then sang Israel unto the Lord the song of the “stormy wind fulfilling his word.”

Now you see only the mystery of this great sorrow; then you shall see how the threatening enemy was swept away in the wild night of fear and grief. Now you look only at the loss; then you shall see how it struck at the evil that had begun to rivet its fetters upon you. Now you shrink from the howling winds and muttering thunders; then you shall see how they beat back the waters of destruction, and opened up your way to the goodly land of promise. (Streams in the Desert)

I confess I am terminally near-sighted. I largely view circumstance through the rose colored lenses of self-preservation; what hurts or disappoints at this moment supersedes consideration of any higher purpose or good. Immediate thought of personal comfort and reputation disavows Providence, and leaves me hollow and more self-absorbed than before, but when I alter the order to consider first what God is saying or doing, my horizon expands and I recognize God at work.

I read this morning that in North Korea, believers can be banished to labor camps where prisoners are forced to stand on their toes for twenty-four hours in tanks filled with water up to their noses. They are stripped and hanged upside down while being beaten. Food rations leave inmates on the brink of starvation, so many prisoners hunt rats, snakes, and frogs for protein. Has God forsaken them, or is He at work even now to reflect in them His glory? Would I be able to look beyond the hurting winds to see what God is doing in me? I cannot explain God’s sovereignty or grace, but cling to both for strength for today and hope for tomorrow.

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