My childhood home backed onto a railway line. I remember trying to watch the trains go by with a friend. There was a big lump of concrete at the bottom of the garden, into which was embedded the washing line post. It was good for littlies to stand on, to see over the fence. But there was only space for one. And that day the one wasn’t me. Next to the concrete was another mound, so I stepped up onto that. Seconds later, my legs were entirely black, a swarming mass of ants. Fortunately, not the biting sort, but they took some removing! Pharaoh had insect problems too, (Exodus 8:16-19) in the form of gnats.
Now ants mostly only crawl along, and here in the UK they are not usually interested in you unless you disturb their nest, as I must have done. Gnats on the other hand, spot you coming and swoop in, in their droves. Their chief joy is to take a small piece out of you, leaving a lot of irritation and possibly infection. Gnats are like problems. You can cope with an odd one, but when they all come together, to steal your joy and leave anger, frustration, and anxiety in return, it can all get just too much. You feel bombarded, vulnerable, miserable, perplexed. Pharaoh’s magicians found the limit of their powers on this plague. “This is the finger of God,” they said. They knew real power when they saw it. And while Pharaoh would not acknowledge God, the magicians recognized the supreme power and authority of Almighty God.
And that is really the key to dealing with a swarm of problems. However big they are, however many, God is still bigger and more powerful than all of them put together. We have never been promised a life without problems (see John 16), and they do often seem to come a load at once. We are not told that the plague of gnats came to an end, and neither do problems. But neither does God’s love. Nor his presence. Nor his power. He has given us his Holy Spirit to enable us to cope. No matter what. For ever.