Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.
Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves. Exodus 1:6-14 ESV
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. I Peter 4:12-14 ESV
Laura Ingalls wanted to get a good education so she could become a schoolteacher and help pay for her sister Mary’s college education. But the teacher of the town school, Miss Wilder, was mean and unfair. She punished Laura and her sister unfairly. After that, all the kids in the school were rude and disrespectful. They didn’t obey Miss Wilder or do any work, but just caused trouble. It was hard to study in such a place, but Laura kept studying as best she could. She couldn’t help that she had a poor teacher, but she didn’t let that stop her from being a good student.
The people of Israel had been in high favor with the king of Egypt, but as the years went by a new king came who forgot about all the good things Joseph had done. This king saw the people of Israel as a threat. He was very cruel to them, and turned them into slaves. They had to work hard building cities for him. The people of Israel must have wondered how God could let these things happen to them. How could they live as God’s people if they were slaves? Had God forgotten his promises to them?
God has never promised that his people will live with a government that protects and helps them. Often through history, God’s people have lived with a government that hurts them. Jesus taught us to expect to be hated for his sake. Sometimes Christians are able to work to make things better, but sometimes the only thing we can do is pray. God promises that he will never leave us, but that he will always be with us and help us. God helps us to be faithful to him just as Laura was a faithful student, even when things are very hard.
Jesus was also hurt by the government of his time. Even though he never did anything wrong, the Jewish and Roman governments worked together to send him to a terrible death. It was hard for Jesus’ followers to understand how God could let a thing like that happen, but it was actually God’s plan. God used Jesus’ death on the cross to save the world! We can trust him to be with us and help and bless us in our troubles as well.
Dear Heavenly Father, please help us to trust you and your promises even when things are difficult. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Wilder, Laura Ingalls Little Town on the Prairie New York: Harper Brothers, 1941.