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God's proving ground

Out of difficulties grow miracles. (Jean de la Bruyere)

Miracles still happen, but when we don't find ourselves on the receiving end of a miracle, how do we respond? There will be times when we celebrate nonetheless - because we know God is still in control of the circumstances. There may also be times when we begin to realize we have hardened our hearts toward God because we didn't receive the miracle we sought. At others, we may see something that resembles a miracle and walk away totally unaffected by it. How can there be so many responses to God's presence in the midst of his people? I think it all comes down to the condition of the heart. The more we are hardened to the grace and love of God, the less likely we will be to recognize his presence in the small or large miracles we observe all around us.

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh. They did exactly as the Lord had commanded them. Aaron threw the stick down in front of Pharaoh and his officials. It turned into a snake. Then Pharaoh sent for wise men and people who do evil magic. By doing their magic tricks, the Egyptian magicians did the same things Aaron had done. Each one threw down his walking stick. Each stick turned into a snake. But Aaron’s walking stick swallowed theirs up. In spite of that, Pharaoh became stubborn. He wouldn’t listen to them, just as the Lord had said. (Exodus 7:10-13)

Pharaoh no doubt saw the various miracles of God right in front of him - each one of them bigger than the other. Each one mimicked by his 'magicians', telling me that this world has a way of attempting to 'crash God's party'. The thing we cannot fail to see is that God's miracles were not just to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelite people free from their slavery in his nation, but they were faith-bolstering evidence that God was with his people even when the situation didn't seem to give evidence of his presence! Each miracle Aaron and Moses performed at the instruction of God was mimicked by the magicians of Pharaoh - God promising to 'multiply the signs and amazing things he would do in Egypt' (vs. 3). In spite of all the evidence of God's presence and power - Pharaoh wouldn't submit to the plan of God.

The most telling things that reveal a great deal about Pharaoh are of the things God records about his extremely poor attitude of heart. "He will not listen...", "He became stubborn...", "He refuses to let the people go...", and "Even the miracles didn't change his mind..." - all telling statements of the hardness of his heart toward the truth. A heart hardened to truth, repeatedly rejecting the grace and power of God, will eventually just get harder and harder. Is there a way back from this hardness? It is a question I know we have all considered at one point or another. Can a man or woman so hardened to the grace of God be 'softened'? I believe in miracles, my friend! I believe God is able to change even the hardest of hearts.

Miracles oftentimes grow out of difficulties - out of those hardest places in our lives. We may not realize God is setting up the perfect display of his power and love, but in that moment of the 'miracle breakthrough', we see God soften even the hardest of hearts to his move upon their lives. Moses and 
Aaron didn't like that they had to repeatedly return to the courts of Pharaoh. They knew his heart was so hardened toward God's desires for his people. They knew they would be repeatedly challenged. It was a difficult situation, but they also knew they had the presence of God with them all the way. Difficulties are just God's 'proving ground' for the evidence of his grace and power to be demonstrated in ways we never imagined possible! Just sayin!

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