Can I Endure This?

“If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you should be able to endure,…”

Exodus 18:23 NLT

From morning until evening, people needed him. They came to Moses to decide cases between them, when they had a falling-out; to make God’s laws known to them, and ask questions of God through him. Been somewhere similar? Do you have little ones, co-workers, customers, and/or family members needing something from you all…day…long? Worn out (or close to it)?

This is where Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, stepped in. He’d brought Moses’ wife and two boys to reunite with Moses (Exodus 18:2-5).

Backdrop, if you’re wondering why Moses was separated from his family in the first place: His wife, Zipporah, and his boys aren’t mentioned in Scripture between when Zipporah circumcised their child on their way to Egypt, where Moses and Aaron would confront Pharaoh (Exodus 4:20-26), and Exodus 18. Moses may have sent his family back to Jethro right after the circumcision, or it may have been later; all we know is that Moses DID send her back (Exodus 18:2). Later, Jethro heard of everything God had done for Moses and His people, Israel, bringing them out of Egypt, and he brought Moses’ family to him at Horeb, the mountain of God (Exodus 18:5); this mountain is where Moses was shepherding Jethro’s flock in Exodus 3:1-2, when the Angel of the LORD appeared to him from the flame of fire in the middle of a bush. Why did He appear to Moses? The LORD heard, saw, and knew His people’s physical pain (suffering)–Exodus 3:7–and was sending help. According to Exodus 3:12, God’s sign to Moses that He’d sent him was for Moses to serve Him on that mountain after he led the people out of Egypt (Exodus 3:12), so here Moses was at the mountain, again!

When Jethro arrived with Moses’ family, he saw what was going on, first-hand, and asked Moses what he was doing and why he was doing it alone. Exodus 18:15-16 tells us that Moses answered Jethro’s first question, but he didn’t fully answer the second–why he was doing it alone.

Why Were Moses’ Actions Troubling to Jethro?

Since Jethro was reuniting Moses and his family, it’d be logical if he saw how busy Moses was, how the people sought much from him, and knew he wouldn’t have the time or energy to be what he needed to be for his family. What we see in Scripture, though, is that Moses’ work load, investigating and judging all the people’s cases, was what was noted as “not good.” Notice: The rest of what he was doing (bringing difficulties before God for the people as well as teaching the people laws and what they were supposed to do, so they knew the way to live) was to continue (Exodus 18:19-20); it was just the judicial process and “work force” that raised a red flag. Moses was going to grow weak, if he kept it up. Judging all the cases alone would zap him of his energy and strength. It’s interesting that two similar Hebrew words have the exact same Strong’s Concordance number (5034b–“nabel”, meaning “to sink or drop down, languish, fade”) and are right next to each other at the beginning of Exodus 18:18, really emphasizing Jethro’s point–it was just too heavy a task for Moses to do alone!

Have things in your life ever felt too big or like you took on too much?
Questions to Ask Yourself, Based on Exodus 18:
  • Do you have able, efficient, faithful, reliable people in your circle; who fear God; have moral value; hate getting ahead by doing something wrong; whom you can receive help from?
  • Do you allow others to help/share your load, or are you trying to do it all yourself?
  • Do you listen to those who are trying to help when they offer advice?
  • Do you micromanage the faithful people in your circle, when they’re helping you?
  • Have you confirmed with God that He’s commanded you to do whatever you’ve taken on?

“If you do this, AND God so commands you, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people, too, will go home content.”

Exodus 18:23 NAB
Suffering is Part of Enduring

In the midst of our mountain, we, sometimes, jump right into serving, believing it’s good…and it is, until it’s not. If God hasn’t commanded a specific task, delegation, any of it, our service will be heavy and, likely, wear us out; however, if He does command it, and we’re surrounded by the right kind of people, who can help lighten the load, God will enable us to suffer through difficult things patiently. Did you hear that?!? Suffering, according to Scripture, doesn’t mean we have to be worn out, and it isn’t a sure sign that we’re out of God’s will!

Suffering, according to Scripture, doesn’t mean we have to be worn out, and it isn’t a sure sign that we’re out of God’s will!

In fact, Colossians 1:11 says suffering well is part of a life lived in a way suitable to who we are in Christ (Colossians 1:10). It says that part of suffering well is not responding with a knee-jerk reaction (patience); rather, we’re to wait an adequate amount of time before expressing anger to avoid improper anger and it’s effects. Another part of suffering is to remain under tasks or situations that we find taxing (steadfastness). According to Colossians 1:11, we’ll be strengthened…empowered…one area at a time, so that we can accomplish the task at hand through God’s power/ability! When this happens and the task is completed, His power will have been on display and elicit a good opinion of His worth. The key to remaining under the difficult things in our lives, patiently, is joy–recognizing that God is leaning in toward us, extending His favor. Joy isn’t acting like Pollyanna, playing The Glad Game, choosing to be thankful; thankfulness is a response of joy, seeing and knowing that you have God’s attention and favor (for more on joy and it’s Biblical meaning, in case you missed it, check out the link to that blog post at the end of this one).

Who’s Got This?

One saying I hear a decent amount that rubs me the wrong way is, “You got this!” The focus of that, in my opinion, is on us and our insufficient power that, ultimately, leaves us worn out! It’s only when we’re led by God, actively following Him, and allowing Him to showcase His power in us as well as those around us whom He’s put in our lives to help (yes, accepting help showcases His power through humility) that we truly endure!

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