Have you ever felt bullied? I don’t mean “picked on” once in a while but rather continual chastisement for whatever reason. This is a problem that I am all too familiar with. Fortunately, there is a way to handle bullies that will end their reign in our lives.
As a child, I had to endure the daily torment of others. It is as if children have a special sense of who is different and they pounce on them like a lion–devouring them. I was made fun of, chased on the playground, pursued nine long blocks home every day while insults were hurled at me. I was pummeled with rocks, beaten, humiliated, and laughed at. I had no way out and no one to protect me so I just dealt with it each day and quickly came to understand that I was never going to be worthy of friends. The summers were long and lonely, counting the days until I had to return to the daily torment.
This kind of behavior can certainly influence the way a person thinks and sees themselves later in life. It will often times drive them into a “self-medication” mode early in life and they soon spiral out of control. My heart aches daily for all the children in the schools that have to endure that same things that I had to as a child. My daughter often comes home and tells me how someone pushed her or made fun of her at school. It breaks my heart and “dad mode” kicks in and off to the school we go.
The Israelites were bullied by the Egyptians for over 400 years. They were enslaved and made to labor day and night. God, however, stood up for them. He protected His chosen people. He allowed it to happen in order to bring them to a point where He could work with them. Much like the potter with the clay.
Yet you Lord are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8 (NIV)
Our Heavenly Father does this with us sometimes in order to bring us to a place where we are more “pliable.” Sometimes it is only in our times of true brokenness that we are able to be used for His will. As humans born into a sinful nature, it is easier for us to take control of our own lives rather than have the faith that is needed to allow God full control. But only by doing so can we ever experience God’s plan for us…and He does have one!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
So, Moses and Aaron were dispatched to bring God’s people out of Egypt. We all know the story of how God hardened the heart of the pharaoh and then rained down plagues on him and his people and was finally convinced to let them leave. Now by this time the Israelites numbered over 600,000. This number only reflects the men so in reality there were probably closer to 2-2.5 million people including women and children. They made up almost half of the population of Egypt during that time.
God marched the Israelites around the edge of the mountains and circled them back to encamp on the banks of the Red Sea. They were led by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night. When they arrived at the Red Sea, they found that the pharaoh and his army were pursuing them and they became afraid. They began to complain to Moses about their situation.
Isn’t that just like us? We don’t get what we think we need or we are put in a situation that looks hopeless and we begin to complain. Remember that the Israelites were camped in an area that gave them no way out. They had mountains on two sides, the Red Sea on another, and the world’s greatest army coming after them. They were locked in with no way to escape.
The Israelites were so used to being bullied that their natural reaction was one of chaos. They were conditioned to think of themselves as less than a person and to believe that nothing good could come of their lives. They needed an intercession from God to make them believe that someone did find them to be more valuable than anything. They were a “chosen” people just like we are. Here is Moses’ response to their complaining:
Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.” Exodus 14:13-14 (NIV)
Moses tells them to just relax and allow the Lord to do His work. “…you need only be still.” So the angel of the Lord and the cloud moved from in front of them to behind them coming in between them and the Egyptians. It must have taken a tremendous act of faith for the Israelites to “be still” in that situation. Faced with a regretful and hateful pharaoh and his army pursuing them to drive them back. But that is what is required of us in order for God to work in our lives…faith.
We need to remember that no matter how the devil tries to bully us, there is always someone on our side that will fight for us. God will protect us from whatever we face, if we only allow Him to do so. He will position himself between us and the problem. We have to give up complete control and allow His work to be done through us. Just as he used the Israelites situation to bring about belief, He can do the same in our lives. Only God can turn a negative into a positive!
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:28-30 (NIV)
Remember that bullies only have power and control in your life if you allow them to. Satan can only bully you if you allow him to. Stand strong and turn to your faith in God as your refuge. This world is only temporary and one day we will all be in the presence of our Deliverer to sing praises to His name. Don’t be bogged down with the things of this world but rather “be still.”
Dear Father, as I approach your Throne of Grace today, I want to thank you for looking out for me all those many years. I look back now and can see your plan unfolding. I thank you for your mercy and Your grace. Your love will endure forever and I look to that whenever I am feeling down about my life. I pray that you protect all those that are faced with bullies everyday and that you bestow upon them the peace that surpasses all understanding. I pray that you may reveal yourself to them and remind them to just be still and know you are God! I will continue to give you all the glory. Amen.