Monday, July 16, 2012

Helpless Hope

In the first installment in our three part series on being a woman under authority, we looked at the story of Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives who defied Pharaoh and refused to kill the baby boys they delivered.  They illustrate the power of a woman of God to challenge the Dick Dastardlys of the world.  However there are times when we find ourselves powerless rather than powerful.   

Jochebed, the mother of Moses, is the next character named in the Exodus story.    The first verse of Exodus 2 mentions an unnamed Levite was married to a Levite lady, but after that every action is attributed to Jochebed.  She seems to have had her husband's backing because Hebrews 11:23 lists them both as hiding Moses by faith. This focus on Jochebed in the narrative of Moses's birth does not reveal self-determination or innate capability on her part.  Instead she is particularly vulnerable. 

The mother of at least two children already when she became pregnant, there was no way to know if it were life or death she carried in her womb. With the birth of a beautiful baby boy, she was paralyzed between two impossible choices: abandon her child to the waves of the Nile or allow him to be killed at the hands of Pharaoh's soldiers. Jochebed is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea or rather between Pharaoh and the river. Poised to be crushed by them, for three treacherous months she delayed.   Finally, her fearless faith led her to the bank and mercy of the Nile, for Pharaoh was merciless. (Hebrews 11:23)

 Carrying a tiny basket, lovingly pitched and tarred, she commits the fate of her beloved son to God. Jochebed's story reminds us that we may one day be caught between two entirely unfeasible choices when every way we turn seems wrong and every choice is an unbearable one. On the surface Jochebed's choice seems to be between killing her son or killing her son.   Jochebed sees instead a path of trust.  She had no way to know that giving her son to the Nile would turn out differently than the countless other women who abandoned their sons to the great river.  In the face of a hopeless situation she hid him three months. In faith she tarred a basket to keep him dry.  In love she sets his sister to watch him. 

Should we find ourselves trapped, when the authorities over us seem to leave us no viable choice, we can always submit our hope to God.  Like Jochebed we are not promised a happy ending to our dilemma.  Although her son lived, and she was able to enjoy his infancy, he did return to the palace to be the son of the Princess.  Still we can with Jochebed chose to leave room for God to work.  The way of faith is a way of grace where God can turn disaster into victory.

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