I was between jobs as they say – my temporary teaching post working with teenagers with severe learning difficulties had finished. I’d really, really enjoyed that job, and was so sad when the term ended and I had to leave. So I was keeping my eye out for another job with special needs, and one popped up. OK, so it was a different sort of special needs – Primary school kids with emotional and behavioural difficulties. It was hard from day one. Nobody would cooperate, or even speak to one another. They were ready to take a piece out of anyone else – and that was just the staff!!! The kids were no walk-over either. It was a one-year contract, and believe me, that was the looooongest year on record! It didn’t help that I was dreaming about it every night, until it suddenly dawned on me that I was being paid for what I did in the day, not for doing it in my sleep. That was it, I determined not to dream about it any more. And it worked! They offered me a second year’s contract. I can honestly say, I was NOT tempted!
So when I read the passage, Exodus 2:23-25, what struck me was the phrase ‘that long period’. The situation of the Israelites in their slavery was many times worse than my difficult year, and it went on many times longer. How long that must have seemed! How they must have wondered if there would ever be an end. How many of them died without seeing the end? How many of them must have wondered if God had let them down?
But God remembered his covenant. He saw their plight. He heard their groaning. He was concerned. The Israelites just didn’t know it.
It is hard to hold on in faith when nothing seems to be happening, when you don’t hear from God. But he does see, and hear, and is concerned. Eventually the time came ripe for action, and suddenly there was miracle upon miracle upon miracle until they were free.
My ‘annus horribilis’ came to an end, and after it I was a better teacher. I can’t always promise a redeeming feature to a horrible interlude, but I do know that God is concerned, and it’s never for ever. The end will come.