We Will Hold Up Your Hands

Exodus 17:8-13
Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

Last week I was visiting with a friend and her mother who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  She is fighting the good fight through very rough chemo treatments and in spite of tough days, she has had some incredible gains as a result.  I’m not a cancer expert and I don’t understand all of the terminology but when you hear about numbers that started out over 4,000 and have dropped after three treatments to 140, it doesn’t take an expert to know things are working.  

From the outset, a community of family, friends and church members have literally and figuratively gathered around her in prayer, petitioning the Lord on her behalf.  And the Lord has been merciful to answer.  When results come in and numbers are the witness to answered prayer, we rejoice and praise the Lord for His goodness to her.

However, during our visit, as I shared with her my joy in the Lord over her good news, she began to cry.  Her daughter quickly interpreted, “Mom is upset because she doesn’t feel the joy she should feel over her results.  She knows she should be rejoicing but she isn’t.  And she doesn’t understand why.  She doesn’t understand how the very victories she’s been praying for have resulted in depression, anxiety and hopelessness.”  Then, her Mom quickly chimed in, “I just think, what if I have cancer growing elsewhere?”  What if...What if...What if…

I was totally caught off guard.  In the moment I didn’t really even know what to say.  So, I probably offered some words that I can’t remember and just walked the rest of our path in silence.  It wasn’t until I was in the car driving home that the story of Moses in Exodus 17 flooded my mind and I quickly called my friend to share it with her so she could pass it on to her Mom.  And now, I share it with you..

Israel had been through a crazy two months after they left Egypt and entered the Wilderness.  They had seen an incredible miracle in the parting of the Red Sea, they had supernaturally received water from a rock, quail and manna from heaven and they were about to see the Lord move once again.  However, in the midst of all of this, the Lord allowed the Amalekites to come and attack Israel.  

Imagine leaving your home in Egypt in haste, chased by a massive army from the nation that owns you as a slave, crossing over the Red Sea on dry ground and watching the waters wash out that entire army behind you, only to find yourself in a desert.  In a wilderness with no water and no food.  Three days in and you’re starting to lose sight of the miracle.  Your thirst is causing you to become a little delirious and everywhere you look you see sand.  Whatever provisions you brought from Egypt have spoiled or run out and you’re tired...and irritable...and looking for a miracle.

So, the Lord provides another miracle by producing water.  But then, a few more days go by and you remember your hunger.  The gnawing in your stomach won’t stop and the bread from Egypt is moldy and...you’re tired...and irritable and looking for a miracle.

So, the Lord provides quail and manna.  Well, now we are set!  We have water, we have food, we are making some progress in our travels to the Promised Land and we are happy, right?  Wrong.  Because as we move, we are leaving our water source behind and how do we wash down manna and quail without water?  “Lord, did you bring us into the wilderness to die?  Why not just kill us here or better yet, why didn’t you leave us in slavery in Egypt? Are you among us or not?”

But God’s power, once again, displayed through the staff of Moses brings water out of a rock.  And no sooner had they quenched their thirst then the Amalekites came and fought with Israel.  One test right after the next.  It reminds me of a similar trial in the desert where Satan tempted our Savior on the heels of His baptism.  On the heels of a glorious display of the Trinity with the Spirit descending as a dove and the voice of the Father ordaining His Son’s ministry.

Friend, our enemy is crafty and far smarter than we are.  His mission to “kill, steal and destroy” is relentless upon God’s children.  And he is very good at what he does.  Although God allows times of “suffering to produce endurance and endurance, character and character, hope” (Rom. 5:3-5), the enemy never means anything for our good.  He is always there, in the midst of the trial, accusing the Lord to us, accusing us to the Lord and stealing our joy. 

And let’s face it.  Sometimes we cannot bear up under the pressure and we give in.  In our weakness we are tired and weary.  Do you see that in the midst of this battle between Israel and Amalek that Moses had every intention of standing on the hill and holding the staff of God until the battle was over?  But in his weakness, the scripture says, “(his) hands grew weary.  Moses was human and he grew weary.  So, Aaron and Hur, gave him a place to sit and held up his hands.

This is where I think about my friend’s sweet Mama.  Sometimes, in the midst of the battle, our hands become weary and we just can’t hold them up no matter how many miracles we have seen or how many victories depend on it.  Then, the Lord gives us the Aaron’s and the Hur’s of His people to hold them for us.  

So, I told her, “you tell your Mom, if she can’t, then I will, we will, the church will.  We will hold up her hands.  We will go to the Lord in praise over answered prayer on her behalf.  We will rejoice and be grateful until she is able to regain her strength and hold up her hands once again on her own.”

Beloved, God has stretched out the hands of His Son on Calvary to secure the victory for us.  He has held up His arms that we might find victory in grace when our arms grow weary under the weight of the law.  And He has provided in His bride, the church, a family in which we find support to help in time of need.  What a God we serve!  

My plea is two-fold to you: first, in times of weakness, fall on the strength of our God.
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:8-10)

Second, in times of weakness, we must have a body to rely on.  We must have a church family made up of the Aaron’s and the Hur’s.  This is how God intended us to find our support here in the wilderness.  The church is our embassy in a foreign land filled with people from our country that speak our language and serve the same King.  We cannot survive in the wilderness alone. Find a church home that exalts Christ through His word.  Settle there.  Serve there.  Support there.  So that, “(our) hands (might be) steady until the going down of the sun.”

For Miriam Zito Hermosa