Worst day ever. After a few days in a row of saying that, you wonder if you can really fall to the bottom of the barrel or if it is just a false bottom that will keep plummeting down like a broken elevator.
Here’s an excerpt from the diary of Joe Egyptian, as imagined from Exodus 7-9:
The day Moses came back
Yeah, he’s back, and he’s got some sort of message to Pharaoh. I was watching as the magicians did the same trick of turning their staffs into snakes. Creepy! Especially when Aaron’s staff unhinged its jaws to swallow them whole, then slithered back into a plain wooden staff. I’m calling it a night. Serving Pharaoh in the morning, so hopefully the day will get off to a good start.
1 week later
My new occupation is “ditch digger” to find clean water. They turned the Nile to blood. BLOOD! It’s like their God is pointing back to all the Israelite babies who died in there. No one is drinking that. The magicians did the same thing, water to blood. But they could not change the river back. It’s been seven days. Pharaoh refuses to hear of it. So Moses came in again today, and asked that Pharaoh let the people go, or live with frogs. Yes, frogs, and not cute ones. Pharaoh refused, and now there are frogs underfoot, one sitting on my tablet, and I’m pretty sure a dozen are hiding on my bed. Gross! More frogs by the magicians. Tomorrow Moses will ask for the frogs to die, and Pharaoh will let Israel go.
A few days later…
It’s worse. Much worse. The Israelites are still here. And dead frogs are nasty. You can’t stop smelling them because the wind stirs the air. And gnats. I feel like I need a bath in some sort of leaf they despise. I overheard the magicians say this was the hand of God. Yes, Moses and Aaron’s God is more powerful than most of the gods of Egypt. Maybe all? I wish He did not send bugs. The flies are just as bad, big and biting and squishing all over. Never in 1000 years have this many flies been in the land. Pharaoh told them to sacrifice in the land. Not here, Moses said. Fine! Just take the flies away. Moses nodded. But don’t cheat again he warned Pharaoh. This man talking to the Pharaoh of Egypt! But he’s talking as the representative of his God. All of the flies – all of them! Disappeared. Clean air is like walking in a dream. And Pharaoh hasn’t released Israel yet.
And its still going…
Livestock. Dead. Except for the animals of Israel. Moses took soot from the kilns (why did we make them shape so many bricks?) and it scattered. And itching and oozing and boils all over everyone. I can’t move. And I hear the magicians are away from court with the same problem. It’s God. I know.
I heard what Moses and Aaron said from their God:
“Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go.”
And there was hail, just like they said. Some roofs cracked. Anyone outside was hit. I stayed inside, with my family. It was horrible.
Pharaoh said, this time I’ve sinned, you’re right, and me and my people are wrong. This time, he says. Maybe all the times. Maybe this God is the only God. Who would He share power with? And Moses looked straight at Pharaoh and said that the storm would stop, but Pharaoh would not repent.
We are beginning to look around at all of the destruction. The fields that had shoots of flax and barley are destroyed. Maybe the wheat will still come up. Where else will we find food? Maybe these plagues are almost done. Maybe we’ve seen the worst of it. But Israel is still here. I’m afraid that tomorrow will be worse.
God, what does it take for us to listen to You? Sometimes we really do harden our hearts again and again. And our situation gets worse and worse as You call us to stop and repent. I suddenly come to my senses and wonder at how far I’ve gone. Thank You for never stopping to offer hope. Thank You for helping us on the worst days. And while You don’t take pain away, You walk through it with us. Us, who did it to hurt You, ourselves, others. God, please teach me love. I know how to hate too well. Thank You for Jesus’ love that changes my heart – please keep working on me! Amen.