S.O.A.P. – “Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer”
Eventually, a new king came to power in Egypt who knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done. He said to his people, “Look, the people of Israel now outnumber us and are stronger than we are. We must make a plan to keep them from growing even more. If we don’t, and if war breaks out, they will join our enemies and fight against us. Then they will escape from the country.” So the Egyptians made the Israelites their slaves. They appointed brutal slave drivers over them, hoping to wear them down with crushing labor. They forced them to build the cities of Pithom and Rameses as supply centers for the king. But the more the Egyptians oppressed them, the more the Israelites multiplied and spread, and the more alarmed the Egyptians became. So the Egyptians worked the people of Israel without mercy. They made their lives bitter, forcing them to mix mortar and make bricks and do all the work in the fields. They were ruthless in all their demands. Exodus 1:8-14 NLT
Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.” Exodus 1:22 NLT
”Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God.” Exodus 2:23 NLT
Throughout history, a lot of people have found themselves in seasons that were almost unbearable. This was the experience of the Jewish people in Egypt. Their ancestors had traveled to Egypt in order to find food amid a famine. When the Jewish people stayed and grew, the Egyptian rulers saw an opportunity to get free labor. They enslaved the Jewish people. When the Jewish population kept growing even in captivity, the Egyptian rulers became even more cruel: they commanded all Jewish baby boys to be thrown into the Nile after birth. Now, let’s think about this. The Jewish people were God’s chosen people. God had promised their ancestor Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt” (Gen. 12:3 NLT). So, where was God in all this suffering? None of this suffering would have made sense to them. They kept praying, but for years and years, they received no answer.
Can you think of a time when you prayed and prayed for something, but it felt like God was ignoring you?
Why do some people keep following God even during really difficult times? Why do other people fall away from God during hard times?
If someone is struggling to hold onto their faith in a season of suffering, what advice would you give?
Lord, I want to acknowledge that, when times are good, you are my God. And when times are bad, you are my God. Help me to trust you at all times. Lift my eyes so that I can see beyond my current situations. Remind me that “my help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!” (Psalm 121:1).