On top of Mount Horeb, Moses is tasked with a responsibility of a lifetime. But he will not do it until he has some divine assurance. Assurance of what? That no harm will come to him? (He dies). That no harm will come to the multitude of people that are under his care? (Many perish.) But Moses wants to know what would make the mighty Pharaoh let go of Israel. God says that not only will Israel leave, but the Egyptians will be favorably disposed toward the Israelites that if they only ask, they will be given gold and silver by their neighbors.
And who is promising all this? The voice says, “Ehiye Asher Ehiye” or “I will be what I will be”. Being. The God that is Being ‘..the same yesterday and today and forever’ (Hebrews 13:8) is promising the future.
Scriptural wisdom is for the ages. It stays true to human nature yesterday, today and forever. However much we try to be politically correct, we seem unable to outrun evolution or our nature. In the midst of catastrophe, we have an inbuilt capacity to look for meaning. This ability does not hinge on a person’s belief in God. But it is apparent that the writers of the various scriptures of our world had the insight and foresight to understand and predict our journey. And offer us wisdom of Being.
Today, many of us pray for health, wealth and family. But we do not see that the world is fixed in such a way that it has already dealt with those who shackled us. Our oppressors are, in fact, favorably disposed toward us – they just don’t know it. It may be a job or an abusive marriage. Just like Israel plundered the Egyptians effortlessly, we also take away that which is most precious – the knowledge and the experience. The assurance that is given is not that we will be kept safe, but that we will be made free. It is knowledge and experience that will be foundational in setting us up for life in Canaan – according to Exodus, the land flowing with milk & honey. As the story goes on to show, not everyone appreciated freedom. They did not see the freedom in choosing their attitude. And so they perished in their discontent.
People seek help when they feel enslaved and powerless to break free. They have lost the capacity and the drive to move forward. Why does this happen? Sometimes the abuse had been going on for too long that the victim believes this is what life is. Their confidence is shattered. They do not see an alternative. Others fear freedom. And some others stay on planning revenge. A few will leave with nothing but the knowledge and experience. A few will choose the attitude that is useful.
When Viktor Frankl was moving from concentration camp to concentration camp, he had his sights on freedom. His vision of the land flowing with milk and honey and his place in that future kept him alive. With nothing but his knowledge and experience, he started a new life.
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl