“You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.” Exodus 5:7-9
These words were written in God’s Word approximately 7000 years ago. Actually, they were spoken by the Pharaoh of Egypt and later written down. The reason Pharaoh had spoken these words was because his brother, from a previous family, Moses, had returned after many years requesting that Pharaoh release his true Israel family from bondage and allow them to leave Egypt to worship their God. I recently heard a statement in a sermon it went something like this, “If Satan can’t make you bad he’ll make you busy.” Ha! Satan used this same tactic through Pharaoh so many years ago and is still doing it today. Keep them busy!! Keep them tired!! Keep them frustrated!! As long as Satan can keep us bombarded with our emotional, physical and psychological needs unmet he will keep us from our SPIRITUAL needs…
…A total dependence on the Lord.
In the past few years I had been on a journey to beat all journeys. At least any that I have traveled! (written 13 years ago)
- My husband had been laid off.
- I had a falling out with the church we were attending!
- My daughter has blessed us with two beautiful grandchildren, but lives over 500 miles away.
- I’ve started working full-time at 54 years old.
- Menopause is in full swing and on top of everything
- the marriage had detoured down the rockiest road in over 30 years.
Now, as I look back over everything I see where the Lord was trying to take me but at the time it was all happening I felt I was in bondage. I have to tell you that although difficult I have learned to live with my daughter and her family being 500 miles away. I admit that I really love my job and feel that my role, small as it might be, provides me with a feeling of being a cog in a wheel that serves a great purpose.
My husband losing his job was no great shock as we have been down the road of “a constructional engineers employment roller coaster ride” many times before. (His response to this most recent unemployment created some greater issues, but we won’t go there, yet!) The struggle with our previous church was heart breaking but I have seen what the Lord is doing in many wonderful churches in our area and have felt blessed to see His mighty work. BUT, the hardest thing for me to handle in all my 31 years of marriage has been the lack of connectivity my husband and I seemed to experience during other hardships. We have both tried to lay blame on the other during bouts of disagreement. That’s nothing new. It’s been that way since the Garden of Eden. During all the situations in my life I have looked to my husband to be a source of strength but instead found, what seemed to me, to be indifference and apathy. Not because he didn’t care but because he didn’t know how; and/or he had his own struggles going on…quite possibly…some of them being…me! In all my pain, I looked to my husband for understanding and compassion; strength and under girding and I received, what I felt, was total rejection! What I have since learned was that this rejection I was feeling was a “privilege and opportunity”. On this “By Faith Ministries” web site I am going to share with you some of the privileges and opportunities the Lord has offered me but most of all, my prayer and hope, is that you will also begin to see your struggles as a privilege and opportunity.
Hence we return to my original story…One morning about a year ago, I sat in my living room crying to the Lord about my plight and bondage of living with a difficult man who truly doesn’t understand me and I ‘point blank’ asked the Lord “what am I to do?” And since I had just finished reading the story of Moses in Exodus, the Lord being the awesome God He is said, “Make bricks without straw”. And I said, huh? He again said, “Make bricks without straw”. Then I began to meditate on His word and a thought came to me! No where in these passages do I see one Hebrew saying”, “Hmmmm, how do I make bricks without straw”? Now I understand that this is not a time that God is looking to the Hebrew people to make a better brick. I understand that He is teaching them to trust Him even in their troubles and watch what He can do. Not to mention the lesson Pharaoh is getting! But as I sit here in 2008 as a daughter of God’s because of the Savior Jesus Christ I try to see the purpose of these words to me. I had to stop and ask myself, What is my straw?
What is your straw? What areas in your life do you demand from others “straw” to make your bricks? For a moment I want you to think of your joy and contentment as “your bricks?” Let me put it another way. In what areas do you require others to provide your needs or you will absolutely refuse to be joyful? Whoa! You may not see them as demands but they are those things that you have decided that if you don’t have them you will not be happy. I know it’s not fair to compare the Hebrew’s plight with our own. They were in bondage under Pharaoh. We are in bondage under wants and needs. Hummm! Pharaoh provided or withheld all the wants and needs of the Hebrew people. Pharaoh withheld the very thing they needed to make their quota of bricks that he demanded. How stupid is that? He wants a certain number of bricks on a daily basis to complete his big building project in a certain time frame, but withholds the necessary supplies to meet his own demand. Now there’s a separate chapter or even it’s own book on Control by Stupidity. He had the ability to give straw, but wouldn’t. Who is withholding your straw making your growth more difficult? Don’t worry, you’ll soon learn that that person is not the one who holds your straw.
I love my husband and I am in this marriage for the long haul. We made our vows 31 years ago (update since original writing=44 years) and I, with God’s help, am committed to fulfill that vow “until death us do part” in the best way I know how. We were not Christians when we were married and I wonder sometimes if we married for the wrong reasons, but the commitment has been made. God is a God of His Word and my prayer has been to know Him more so I can be more like Him; so I will be a woman of my word, therefore, I am here to stay.
Striving to stay in my marriage is what keeps me going back to the Lord for strength again and again. And with the “ah, ha” moment of this study of making bricks without straw I have come to the realization that the Pharaoh in my life is my husband. Not because he is mean, ruthless and holds me in bondage but because as the Israelites looked to Pharaoh for the straw to make the allotted bricks I look to my husband to provide ALL the straw for my physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological bricks. I came into my marriage with a Cinderella attitude looking to him to fulfill all my wants and needs. David Clarke in his book, Men Are Clams Women Are Crowbars says that on his best day my husband can only provide 30% of my needs. I believe that the Lord has allowed most of our struggles so that each of us could grow and become more mature in Christ. I try to see each conflict as an opportunity to examine my straw demands (or my straw contributions). At times the struggle is greatest when I see my husband’s lack of “straw provisions” and become distraught, sad and/or angry. We both lose because my expectations and demands are so great and placed on the wrong person. I have put my husband in the place of my God and Savior. The Bible speaks to dying to self and I’m beginning to think that this means having absolutely no expectations of my husband or anyone else. But that’s the wrong way to look at it. I can have the expectations or I would never expect anyone to improve. What’s wrong with my view is that I allow my husband’s and others inability to provide the straw for my bricks to affect my love, joy, peace and growth. (Growth isn’t a fruit of the Spirit but it’s a perk!) I need to have a rational belief and trust in people that they can grow and do better but that my joy and personal growth should not become contingent on their success or failure to come through. It could and most likely would encourage and strengthen me in the journey but I must never place that burden on another person by depending on them for something that should only be sought in the Holy Spirit. Other people, especially our husbands, may be blessed with the privilege and opportunity to provide additional straw but only after we have sought for it at the main source. It was there that we should have started in the first place.
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