As I am currently working my way through the book of Exodus, I am reminded of so many things that happened to the Israelites as a nation, as well as individually. The miraculous signs and wonders that God did to free the Israelites from slavery always leaves me in awe. It’s easy to see and recognize all that the Lord did as we are on this side of the story and know what happens, but the Israelites did not have that privilege. They were in the midst of it. They couldn’t see the end, the freedom, or the promised land.
In Exodus chapter 6, God promises that He will deliver the Israelites up and out of Egypt, ultimately freeing them from slavery. He tells Moses what to tell the people (Exodus 6:6-8),
I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.
Sounds amazing, right? Freeeeedom!
But, the Israelites didn’t listen.
Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.
This last verse is what I want to focus on. All the Israelites had known and experienced was slavery and bondage, abuse and neglect. Why would they understand, let alone hear that things could be different? The concept of freedom was unfathomable and incomprehensible to them. They were born into “cruel bondage.” They were stuck. They did not listen and could not hear what Moses was saying.
In thinking about people, but more specifically about our children “from hard places” (with trauma backgrounds), this response actually makes perfect sense.
It’s hard to hear everything will be OK, when presently it’s not.
It’s hard to hear of hope, when presently you are hopeless.
It’s hard to hear of favor, freedom and blessing, when presently all you know and experience is the exact opposite.
The Israelites did not listen because they were still living in discouragement and bondage.
Sometimes, truth of what’s to come, even if it means freedom, is hard to hear. We don’t always trust that things can or will change, because all that we know or have experienced is discouragement and bondage.
Our kiddos from hard places don’t always trust that things can or will change for the good, even if we speak of hope that things can or will be different. Because, quite frankly, all they’ve known is trauma, neglect and abuse. The Israelites only knew of slavery, bondage and captivity. Their stories aren’t too different from one another. To be free from this pain was not even in the Israelites’ minds, nor is it in our kiddos’ minds. They struggle to comprehend freedom. They were born into “slavery” so why would anything change just because someone said it would?
Ultimately, reading this verse gave me a little glimpse into the mindset of living in captivity. It’s hard to hear of or believe in freedom, even if it is possible or the Truth. Bondage is not just physical anymore, it’s also mental.
Compounded by fear.
Helping someone recognize or change their futile thinking is one of the hardest challenges. The thought patterns are well established, so to switch tracks, is not easily done or overcome.
But, it’s also not impossible.
Nothing is impossible with God.
Quite frankly, it might even get harder (think of the 10 plagues) before it gets better. This makes trusting that much more difficult for our kiddos. They have a long journey of healing to go. They don’t easily trust, and they don’t always listen. Not because they don’t want to hear, but because they just can’t. I think this is something I need to constantly remember, because it’s hard to be patient when someone just won’t listen. We need the Lord in every way and on every level.
It takes the mighty hand of God to bring full freedom: physical freedom, emotional freedom, spiritual freedom, mental freedom.
Freedom awaits, but the journey isn’t an easy one.
Keep casting the vision, friends. The Lord is not finished writing HIStory. He still works and moves in our lives.
As foster parents, we are to continue speaking truth and hope into our kids’ circumstances. We are to lead and guide, always pointing them back to the The One who rescues and saves.
May the Lord do miraculous signs in your home today as you parent your kiddos, even when it looks impossible and especially when they won’t listen. I pray the Lord brings complete freedom to those kiddos who are discouraged and in bondage. May His mighty outstretched hand do amazing wonders that tell of His great love for them and for us all …
To God be the Glory!