The last several months, for me, have felt like an uphill scramble on a hot sand dune. I have been working through traumatic memories, overcoming fears, uprooting old mindsets, and adjusting to new adventures. Some days I gain momentum. Other days, I seem to slide back two steps for every one I take. Sometimes I slip and fall and end up glissading down to the bottom of the sand heap.
It’s a constant climb that leaves me feeling exhausted and frustrated. Some days I’m furious with myself for not being able to do better or not recognizing the abusive relationship that caused this trauma sooner. But at the start of each new day, I pick myself up and try again.
Are you in a situation similar to mine? Where you’ve been delivered from a difficult or dangerous situation, and are navigating the new direction your life has taken? Do you wonder, like me, when the grieving and exhaustion will ever end? Why do things never seem to get any easier? There’s supposed to be a “Promised Land” of healing and hope somewhere out there — but where on earth is it?
After the Happily Ever After
Somewhere along the line, our culture began preaching that deliverance means that a miracle happens in the blinking of an eye. All of our problems disappear just like that. We grow up believing in fairytale endings where the hero or heroine overcomes whatever trial they face, they receive everything their heart desires, and they live happily ever after.
Reality check: That’s not how life works.
First of all, those fairytale endings had to be fought for. The characters slew dragons, overcame villains, and that changed their lives forever. But don’t you think that after the last chapter ends and the curtain closes, those characters had some healing to do? Cinderella had to heal from years of abuse. Snow White had to cope with the trauma of fleeing for her life and surviving attempted murder. You can bet that the characters in our favorite fairy tales had some healing to do. But no one ever talks about that part of the story.
Deliverance from challenging situations is a miracle in itself. But deliverance isn’t the end of the story. Instead, it’s the beginning of a new chapter. Sometimes, the miracle we hope for doesn’t come when we are delivered from a problematic situation. The miracle often
comes in the middle of the road that deliverance sends us down — and it can come in ways we don’t expect.
Deliverance is a Journey
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering my situation. I was in an abusive marriage for over a decade and escaped when I discovered that my former husband had plans to end both of our lives. It was a miracle for me to survive and be delivered from that situation. However, the moment I knew I was free from those chains was the beginning of a brand new journey.
I set out on a hilly and rocky road (if you can call it that) toward healing. When I look at the vast expanse ahead of me and realize that I’ll be on this pat
h for months and years to come, it’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed and discouraged.
But I know I can’t give up.
Neither can you.
And neither did generations of people before us.
Walking Out of Egypt
One morning, when I wondered how long I’d have to struggle along, a familiar story out of the Bible came to mind. I opened up its pages and began to read about others who were delivered out of mind-boggling situations. One story led to another, and before long, I had read several stories that describe how deliverance is a journey rather than a defining moment of change. Let’s take a quick look at three of those stories.
Milennia ago, the Hebrews were enslaved in Egypt. They prayed for decades for deliverance from their captivity. When Pharoah issued a decree for all the enslaved men under a certain age to be exterminated, one mother risked everything to put her baby son, Moses, in a basket and float him down the river. The daughter of Pharoah found him and adopted him as her son, saving his life.
When Moses grew to adulthood, God told him to set His people free, and Moses confronted Pharoah. However, it took ten times (and ten plagues) to convince Pharoah to free the Hebrew people. You can read the entire epic story here.
However, the story doesn’t end there. God didn’t just hand over the keys to Egypt’s kingdom and tell the Hebrews to move in and get cozy. Instead, they strapped on their sandals, packed their belongings, and started on a journey through the desert. Instead of staying where they were, God called them to something greater, something meant for them. At that moment, the journey began. The Hebrews walked out of Egypt.
However, the journey was far from easy. Pharaoh changed his mind and came after them in hot pursuit, not interested in enslaving them but annihilating them. God parted the waves of the Red Sea so that they could walk through the center of it, ending Pharoah’s pursuit permanently. From there, they faced hunger and thirst, enemies, and challenges beyond measure.
The Hebrews ended up wandering in the desert for forty years, after a stint disobeying God’s instructions, but in the end, they made it to their Promised Land — a land “flowing with milk and honey.”
In what ways has God led you out of your Egypt? (link to song). Take a look at the journey you’re on now. What has that journey looked like so far? Where do you think it’s taking you? (Spoiler alert: It’s never where you think.) Are you doing things to hinder arriving in that Promised Land? What are you doing to help yourself get there?
The Courage of Esther
In the Bible’s Book of Esther, the Hebrews have again found themselves in captivity. This time, they are in Persia. One man named Haman had such a grudge against a Hebrew man named Mordecai and his people that he convinced King Xerxes to issue a proclamation to exterminate the Hebrew race.
Queen Esther, one of the Hebrew people, found the courage to tell her husband of the plot. She exposed Haman’s evil plans, and the king permanently ended his plotting. However, that wasn’t the end of the story. No edict could be overturned in Persia, not even by the king. Instead, Xerxes issued other edits that allowed the tables to turn in the Hebrew’s favor. They still had to prepare, and they still had to fight. They still had to overcome the challenges before them. In the end, they would come out victorious and continue to thrive until they could head back to Israel, their Promised Land.
Joseph’s Plot Twist
The last story I’ll touch on here is the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis. Remember his beautiful technicolor dream coat? His brothers became jealous of him and sold him into slavery in Egypt. His situation seemed more hopeless as he was thrown into prison after being falsely accused of trying to assault his master’s wife. But God had put him right where he needed to be. Pharoah had been experiencing disturbing dreams, and only Joseph could decipher their meaning. In the end, he became Pharoah’s right-hand man.
When a predicted famine happened seven years later, his family came to Egypt asking for help. Can you imagine what that reunion must have been like? The memories, the hurt, the emotions? Can you imagine what healing he must have had to go through to forgive them and decide to save them from starvation?
There are countless other stories of the journey of deliverance, not just in the Bible but in a million different places. Which story resonates the most with you? I’d love for you to share that story with me.
I came across this quote a few months ago and have read it a hundred times since then. (Maybe a thousand, but who’s counting?) “If it wasn’t for the struggle, you wouldn’t have the strength. God is always building you even when it seems like he’s breaking you.”
Over the years, I’ve done a lot of hiking and running, summiting a handful of fourteeners and finishing a dozen half marathons. A person usually can’t go out and climb a mountain or finish a race of that length without training. I can’t tell you how many blackened toes, blistered feet, and sore muscles I gained during training. But when I’m standing on top of the mountain, or I hear the cheering at the finish line, my heart swells with joy, knowing that I was strong enough to make it.
It’s easy to be frustrated when someone tells you that the journey of deliverance will strengthen you. There are certainly days I don’t want to hear it. But most days, when I shift my perspective to realize that I will grow and come out of this a stronger and better person, I find hope.
Yes, it’s damned hard. It’s a struggle. Some days you’ll wonder how you’ll keep going. But through it all, you’re learning new things, you’re growing, you’re meeting amazing people who want to come alongside you and help, and someday, you may be someone else’s miracle. Your story might be a page in their guide to survival.
As long as you and I keep putting one foot in front of the other, as long as we keep going and trusting that God will give us the help we need, He will provide manna for the day and will get us to a promised land of lasting peace.
© 2022 Lainey La Shay