Valleys

Life isn’t easy. There are “ups” and there are “downs,” and sometimes it just seems like the “downs” never end. It’s like taking one step forward and then falling into a pit. I’ve heard that pit described as a “valley.”

When I was a kid my mother and stepfather would take us to Las Vegas on several occasions and we would drive through Death Valley. This valley was barren—nothing but endless miles of sand. It was such a big valley that I never saw the mountains that surrounded it.

Every now and then our “downs” feel like we are walking through Death Valley—we feel alone, there’s nothing good that we see, and sometimes it just feels scary. It makes me wonder why God would allow us to experience that.

Exodus 13:17-18 says, “When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land…God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness…” (NLT).

The wilderness that the Israelites went through was very much like Death Valley—they had no water or food because the land was barren. They had to rely on God to give them food and water:

“They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink… “What are we going to drink?” they demanded. So Moses cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink…

… the whole community of Israel complained…“you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”…Then the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God’” (Exo. 15:22-25; 16:2-3, 11-12).

I thought about two things:

  1. God allows us to experience “valleys” in our life because He wants us to rely on Him more– He will take care of us.
  2. God wants us to know that even though we may feel alone while in the “valley,” He is with us and He will help us get through it.

Copyright © 2014 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

A “curse” can be a blessing

Sometimes we go through something in our lives and we think it’s a curse.

In Exodus 3:7 and 10, God tells Moses, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering…. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (NIV).

After God rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, they started to complain, “In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death’” (Exo 16:2-3). They saw their situation as a “curse” rather than a blessing. They forgot what it was like to be a slave under the harsh rule of Pharaoh.

A couple of years ago I went to the doctor for a regular checkup. My blood pressure was high and my blood test showed that I was on the verge of having high cholesterol. I was also overweight. I remember praying to God to help me lose weight because I feared for my health. A few days later I contracted a stomach virus but after a while I thought I was better so I ate a pepperoni pizza. That night it felt like my stomach had erupted and lava was shooting upwards into my throat.

I saw the doctor in the morning and he told me that I had acid reflux\GERD and that I had to go on medication for an extended period of time to heal my esophagus. He also told me that I couldn’t eat all the foods that I was accustomed to eating—foods like fried chicken, pizza, hot dogs\sausage, chocolate bars, ice cream, and spaghetti with sauce. I was devastated and depressed.  It was a difficult year of adjusting—I complained constantly about not being able to eat.

It has been almost two years since I received that diagnosis and I see now that what I felt was a “curse” (not being able to eat these foods) was really a blessing. I lost almost 35 pounds, my blood pressure is normal, and I have no issues with my cholesterol.

After 40 years of being in the wilderness, I think the Israelites finally realized that God had blessed them—He saved them from a life of oppression, He guided them day and night on their journey, and provided food and water for them. What they thought was a “curse” was really a blessing.

What are your complaints? Can it be a “blessing in disguise”?

Copyright © 2013 Dr. M. Teresa Trascritti

Talents

During our last visit to Disney World, we stopped off at the Mexico pavilion and saw someone making glass figurines. It really fascinated me because (1) it’s something that I can’t do, and (2) the finished product was so incredible. I stood there for a few seconds just watching the woman shoot flames on the pieces of glass then melting and forming shapes from it.

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I thought about these passages from Exodus 35:30-33, “Then Moses told the people of Israel, The Lord has specifically chosen Bezalel… giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman… He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft” (NLT).

There are so many talented people in the world, but I’m not sure if they realize that their skills and abilities have come from God. I am not always thankful for the abilities God has given me, and most of the time I take them for granted. Psalm 139:14 reminds me that God has made me into who I am today and all my gifts and talents come from Him. Thank you, God!

Faith

We are reading through Exodus now and this morning we read about Moses leading the Israelites through the Red Sea (Exo 14). This was not a simple feat. The Red Sea is a body of water about 220 miles wide.  To put this into perspective—the state of Ohio is said to be “220 miles long and 220 miles wide at its most distant points” (http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/qf-geography.php).

One would think that the Israelites would be in an everlasting state of awe after witnessing such an incredible act of God, but in the next chapter of Exodus it mentions that the Israelites traveled three days “without finding any water” when they started to complain (Exo 15:22, 24). They started complaining only three days after witnessing the parting of the Red Sea!

It made me think about how easily we forget when God has worked in our lives—prayers He had answered, situations He had worked out, etc. We can’t expect a miracle everyday (Matt 12:39) otherwise there would be no need for faith (Luke 8:25).

When was the last time God worked in your life? Cling to that memory and have faith that God is still with you.

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti

Just do it

Fear is so powerful. It can stop us from saying what we ought to say or stop us from doing what we ought to do. I get very nervous when I have to speak in front of a large crowd.  Sometimes the fear makes it feel like my stomach is knotting up.

Yesterday, I was offered an onsite course to teach. The first reaction I had was fear.

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I thought about the many reasons why I should decline the offer— my voice quivers when I speak, I’m too much of an introvert, I really don’t like driving at night, etc.; plus my past experiences have not been very good. I was ready to send my email to decline the offer, but everything changed after we read Exodus this morning.

God wanted Moses to do something, “but Moses protested” (Exo 3:11 & 13), then “Moses protested again” (Exo 4:1); finally Moses, “pleaded with the Lord, ‘O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled’” (Exo 4:10).

God’s reply spoke to me, “Then the Lord asked Moses, ‘Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say’” (Exo 4:11-12).

Unlike Moses, I will not continue to protest God (Exo 4:13). I sent an email accepting the assignment. I have no idea how God will use me during those five weeks but I hope that He will be glorified.

What has God asked you to do? Stop protesting and do it!

Copyright © 2013 M. Teresa Trascritti