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Are You Hopeless Enough?

Are You Hopeless Enough?

Dear Friend,

Are you hopeless enough to appreciate what Jesus has done for you?

Does that seem like an odd question? Do you realize that God is leading your life, and that in a very real way, his goal is to lead you into a place where you are hopeless in yourself, so that you can see with greater clarity the greatness of your salvation in Christ?

This week we’re reading the premier salvation story of the Old Testament. It was the miracle the Israelites came back to again and again. More than two million people went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water to the right and to the left. Picture the sharks and the whales—like what you see in the Shedd Aquarium—only no glass! I imagine you could feel the mist on your face.  But God led them through the Red Sea with unmoistened feet.  

In our time, unbelieving scholars have tried to argue that this was no miracle at all. They say the Israelites didn’t really cross the Red Sea on dry ground—they were just passing through a marshy swamp somewhere. But I love the story about a liberal minister who was preaching in an old, Bible-believing, southern church. There came a point in the minister’s sermon when he referred to the crossing of the Red Sea. This so stirred a man in the congregation that he cried out, “Praise the Lord! Takin’ all them children through the deep waters! What a mighty miracle!” Only this minister didn’t believe in miracles.  So he smugly replied, “It was not a miracle.  They were in marsh-land, the tide was ebbing, and the children of Israel picked their way across in six inches of water.” Undeterred, the old man shouted back, “Praise the Lord! Drownin’ all them Egyptians in six inches of water. What a mighty miracle!”

As you read this miraculous story this week, focus on how the Lord led his people—and notice how counter-intuitive it is.

God’s strategy seems very strange. In Exodus 14, He commands His people to go where they will be completely hemmed-in. He pins the people against the sea so that humanly speaking, there’s no way of escape. Chuck Swindoll said it was like driving into a dead end street with a car full of gang members chasing you.

We value efficiency—the quicker the better. We say the closest distance between two points is a straight line—but God writes straight with crooked lines. God didn’t choose the obvious way or the shortest way or the most direct way to get his people to the Promised Land—but it was the best way.  

God leads his people into a seemingly hopeless position. Left to themselves, there is no way of escape. The Evil One is breathing down their necks. They are outnumbered and trapped—completely vulnerable.
But their hopelessness and vulnerability becomes a theater for the display of God’s glory as He saves His people and brings decisive judgment down on their enemies.

I love the way A.B. Simpson describes it:

How did God bring about the miracle of the Red Sea? By shutting His people in on every side so that there was no way out but the divine way. The Egyptians were behind them, the sea was in front of them, the mountains were on both sides of them. There was no escape but from above.

Someone has said that the devil can wall us in, but he cannot roof us over. We can always get out at the top. Our difficulties are but God’s challenges, and many times He makes them so hard that we must get above them or go under. In the Providence of God, such an hour furnishes us with the highest possibilities for faith. We are pushed by the very emergency into God’s best. Beloved, this is God’s hour.

Maybe you feel like an Israelite at the edge of the Red Sea right now. You are hemmed-in on every side. Humanly speaking, there is no way of escape. Things are looking pretty hopeless.

Remember, your difficulties are but God’s challenges. Your hopeless situation is a great opportunity for the Lord to magnify His glory.

Take heart: “When God intends the greatest good to His people, and intends to raise them the highest, He is very careful to keep them very low” (Jeremiah Burroughs).

The devil might wall you in, but he cannot roof you over. Salvation comes from above. It could be that your greatest moment of victory is just around the corner.

“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today … The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (Exodus 14:13-14).

Fighting the good fight of faith with you,

David Sunday