The rain came down this morning.
I knew it was comin’ in.
The creaking in my achy bones,
Told me ‘fore the weathermen.
Doc says its cause I’m growin’ up.
I’m getting older by the day.
My body’s fighting ‘gainst the time.
Some say its growing pains.
The change in bar-o-metric pressure
Ties my knees up in a bind.
As the isobars huddle up,
My hips, they creak and grind.
Rodeo’s been kind a hard,
On all my parts the move.
They do alright on most my days
But weather puts ‘em in a mood.
Before the crack of thunder
My fingers start to pop
My back refuses a simple flex
And neck pain just wont stop
My hands wont grip a single thing
Every joint remains in state
My phalanges swell and stiff
And my feet wont supinate
See just before the change in temp
My ankles remain affixed
My shoulders feel their glued in place
Cold air blows and it all sticks
So like the Tin Man in the Oz
I hate how the rain treats me
My cows and crops they love it
it’s a conundrum, cant you see?
So what’s a stove up cowboy do,
When the rain and cold transpire?
Simply put, the rem’dy is…
Find a warm beach and retire.
When reading the first few chapters of Exodus, my mind is drawn to the growing pains that faced the people of God. A nation, a people in its infancy, seventy in all (Ex. 1.5; Deut 10.22), settled in the northernmost region of the Nile (Gen. 47.27). The land of Goshen was a paradise, constantly and consistently fed by the waters of the Nile. It was a perfect place of refuge from famine (which is what brought them there in the first place) and to graze their herds of sheep. Long after the time of Joseph, the Hebrews found themselves in a land that was not their own with leader who didn’t know Joseph or his legacy (Ex. 1.8) and a cold wind started to blow in Egypt.
The new Pharaoh saw the numbers grew to the point of threatening his leadership and rule. If they ever decided not to stay in line, they could over run the country. From that point on Pharaoh enslaved the Israelite, forcing them to build cities, make bricks, and work the fields. They became forced labor. Growing pain number 1.
After the enslavement, Pharaoh had a talk with the Hebrew midwives. At Pharaoh’s request, they were to kill any male baby born to the Hebrews (Ex.1.15-16). They were on a hit list. Growing pain number 2.
Finally, if Pharaoh can’t force their numbers down or abort them out…he was going to drown them out. (Ex. 1.22) Their babies being thrown into the Nile, was Pharaoh’s way of exerting his power, exercising his authority, and thinning out the Hebrews. The Nile, which gave life to their land of Goshen, was now the instrument Pharaoh was using to kill their babies. Genocide. Growing pain number 3.
Despite Pharaoh’s best attempts, the Hebrews multiplied. After Joseph’s death they “were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, and the land was filled with them.” (Ex. 1.7) Then Pharaoh enslaved them and “the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread.” (Ex 1.12) Then Pharaoh tried to abort them, but the midwives feared God (1.17) and the people “increased and became even more numerous.” (1.20) Finally, Pharaoh ordered all male babies thrown into the Nile. It was from these waters, that Pharaoh’s daughter would “draw out” Moses, the one who would deliver their people. (2.5-6)
Despite the pain of this time, in hindsight, God used it to grow the nation to upwards, of some estimates, 2 million people at the time of the Crossing of the Reed Sea. It was during this time of subjugation and persecution that lessons, growing pains, were learned by the people like:
- A testament that evil will not prevail over God’s people. The Hebrews withstood persecution from the most powerful man on the face of the earth at the time. He was a God in his own country, who held the fate of men in his hands. Yet the people of God flourished.
- A lesson about salvation. Over the next 900 or so years of Israel’s history, God’s action at the Reed Sea, would be a constant testament to God’s ability to save His people. It was a lesson in his power as He plagued the Egyptians and protected Goshen. It was a lesson in control as God made the Hebrews plunder the Egyptians without force. (Ex 12.36) They learned salvation as He parted the Sea before them. They understood his judgment as He brought the waves down on the Egyptian army.
- A lesson in loving others. During His instruction of the people, in His commands to love and care for the down and out, the poor, and the alien, He reminds them that they were once aliens in Egypt (Exodus 22.21; 23.9; Lev. 19.34; Deut. 10.19; 15.15). There is no better teacher than experience. They felt subjugation; will they learn from it and show mercy to the aliens amongst them?
For 430 years, Israel lived in Egypt (Ex. 12.40) under the protection of mighty Egypt. Without fear from invasion, the infant nation grew into a powerful people. But as they grew the experienced pains that would forever give them learning about God and His interaction with man. It is my prayer that these lessons stick as I grow as well for I occasionally experience fear in the face of evil, though Jesus tells me to fear not. I need reminded that once I was an alien, far away from God, but in His love and grace, He gave His son as a sacrifice so that I became no longer an alien but a son. While we were still slaves to sin, in bondage to our flesh, He liberated us by sending His Son. The lessons learned by the Israelites are the lessons we so desperately need today.
Growing up can be painful, but God is showing me that in some of the most painful times are when His lessons can be learned the clearest.