The year was 2021. That was the year my husband Gary dubbed “The Year of Discontent.”
Most people I know felt that way about the previous year, because that was when dreaded COVID-19 really hit hard. It was a terrible year with many people dealing with the horrible virus. My husband and I prayed for a lot friends who contracted COVID – some whom had to be in the ICU for months fighting for their lives. Some experienced after-effects which temporarily paralyzed them. And some took their last breaths on this earth.
Heartbreaking, for sure. We were very thankful (and continue to be) that it didn’t touch our immediate family.
When my husband retired near the end of 2020, we decided to move to Arizona to be closer to our son; plus help his sister who was dealing with dementia. But little did we know as we moved from Texas to Arizona in January of 2021 that it would be a year the enemy would constantly try to steal our joy.
First, upon arriving in Arizona, we had a difficult time finding a home. Then our son decided he really didn’t want to see us very much; and Gary’s sister only lived a few months after we arrived.
We felt as though the enemy was shooting his little darts towards us. However these darts were certainly not of the same magnitude as when God sent locusts back in Moses’ day to plague Pharaoh because he refused to let the Israelites leave and go to the land God had promised to give them (Exodus 10:1-20). Rather these locusts were buzzing little pests that kept invading our thoughts, trying to make us question what we believed we were supposed to do.
Sometimes the ways of our God are hard to understand, aren’t they? Yet when we believe God is telling us to do something, we must do it.
When Moses was just a little baby, his parents knew there was something special about him. So even though Pharaoh, the new king of Egypt, had just given an edict that every newborn Hebrew boy was to be killed (Exodus 1:6-22), Moses’ mother came up with a plan in the hopes of saving her son. She made a little basket and by a leap of faith placed her little baby inside, hiding him in some papyrus reeds in the Nile River. She no doubt knew that the daughter of Pharaoh came often to that particular place, and was trusting God to make a way where there seemed to be no way for her baby boy to live. Sure enough, Pharaoh’s daughter rescued baby Moses from the River, and he went on to be raised as her son in Pharaoh’s castle (Exodus 2:1-10).
But it wasn’t God’s plan that Moses was to grow up a pampered rich kid. Moses knew he was not an Egyptian by birth, but a Hebrew. He witnessed daily how his people were being forced to live as slaves. One day as he was out walking, he saw a Hebrew man being beaten by an Egyptian. When he thought no one was looking, he killed the Egyptian, and hid his body (Exodus 2:11-12).
He surely thought he was doing the right thing. After all, no one saw him…
But when Moses went out the next day, he witnessed two Hebrew men fighting among themselves.
“Why are you doing that?” Moses asked the man who had started the fight.
The man replied, “Who appointed you to be our prince and judge? Are you going to kill me as you killed that Egyptian yesterday?”
Moses got scared, because clearly his murder act had been noticed. And, sure enough, Pharaoh soon gave the order to find and kill Moses. So Moses fled to Midian, about 300 miles away (Exodus 2:13-15).
But that was just another beginning to the story of Moses. Because after hiding away in Midian for many years, one day God appears to him in a burning bush, and tells him that he has been chosen personally to confront Pharaoh and rescue his fellow Hebrews from their years of bondage (Exodus 3). This set in motion a series of plagues that God sent upon Pharaoh, one of them being the swarming locusts. But Pharaoh’s heart was hard, and he refused to release the Hebrew slaves – until God allowed his firstborn to die (Exodus 7-12).
So Moses, who was 80 years-old by then (Exodus 7:7), persevered through many years of hardship, and became the man chosen by God to free the Israelites and lead them to the Promised Land (Exodus 3:17).
I’m bringing all this up because we often think our lives are to be lived through rose-colored glasses. We follow God, and think He should bless us daily with everything our hearts desire.
Gary and I thought we’d move to Arizona, retire in grace with money in the bank from selling our house. We envisioned a renewed close relationship with our son. And maybe bridges would be mended between Gary and his sister with dementia.
None of that happened as we had planned. So the questions start coming: Did we do the right thing? Were we really supposed to move from our home in Texas to retire in a new state? Did we mis-hear the Lord?
But here’s where we need to remember Who is in charge – and it’s not us! When we surrendered our lives to Jesus and His saving grace many years ago, we gave Him free-rein to do what He chose with our lives. We had been praying for guidance up to the year of Gary’s retirement, and we both felt peace that, indeed, moving to Arizona was the next step we were to take in our walks with the Lord.
But why does it have to be so hard sometimes? Do you ever ask yourself that question? I have!
And I know Moses surely asked himself that question many times as he obeyed God’s leading, not only through the many hardships involved with confronting Pharaoh repeatedly, but also in leading his fellow Israelites through the desert for 40 years!
Friends, God never promised that walking in obedience would be easy. As a matter of fact, the Bible says the opposite: “All those who wish to live a godly life will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
So what is our attitude to be when things don’t go as planned?
Well the Word of God says we’re to “consider it pure joy” because through the suffering God is molding and shaping us into who He wants us to be (James 1:2-4). It says in 1 Peter 1:6-9 that He’s refining us so our faith will be of greater worth than pure gold!
Living on this earth as a Christian will never be easy. There will always be hardships and the testing of our faith. But keep your focus, friends, because our true Home is coming, and that will be the place where there will no longer be any pain, suffering or sorrow (Revelation 21:4).
So when those irritating little locust-pests start swarming around you filling you with doubt, shoo them away! Remember who you are in Jesus – a child of the King.