The Word — Surrounded by trouble

Published 1:51 pm Saturday, November 12, 2022

After 400 years of slavery they are finally free. They make their way out of Egypt and encamp on the shores of the Red Sea. With this great body of water at their back the ground under them begins to shake and they look up to see the mighty Pharaoh with all his horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army thundering down upon them. It’s terrifying and overwhelming. They are surrounded by trouble with no way of escape.

But you understand, because you’ve been there. Bills pile up, your savings evaporate, the stock market plummets and prices keep climbing. You’re surrounded by trouble. Your parent’s health isn’t good, your children can’t find a job, your roof leaks and the car needs a new transmission.

You’re surrounded by trouble. Your boss wants more time from you, your spouse wants more time from you, the team you coach wants more time from you and all you want to do is spend more time drinking. You’re surrounded by trouble.

Sometimes we’re surrounded by trouble because we made bad choices but sometimes we’re surrounded by trouble simply because we live in a broken world. Moses did exactly what God told him to do when they left Egypt. In Exodus 14:1-2 God tells Moses exactly where they should set up camp. In Exodus 14:8 God sends the Egyptian army to pursue His people. So as the people stand between the Red Sea and an army intent on destroying them they are right where God wants them. They are surrounded by trouble but they are not in trouble.

They’re not in trouble because the One who is with them is greater than all the trouble that surrounds them. The Lord was with them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. So when the people find themselves surrounded by trouble, Moses says “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today” (Exodus 14:13).

The Lord would have Moses raise his staff and stretch out his hand over the waters to divide them and would have the people walk through that sea on their way to their freedom while the Lord took care of all their trouble – all of it!

Thousands of years later, Jesus would be surrounded by trouble as he died on the cross. But God would divide that tomb and deliver his Son from the dead to show us that our greatest trouble, our sins, are forgiven. Sometimes God allows trouble to surround His people so that we can join the saints standing by the Red Sea and the empty tomb in celebrating God’s victory over our troubles as we wait for the final victory. “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today.”

Rev. Matthew Sorenson is the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He can be reached at pastor@stjohnsfarmville.org.