Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you”. Joshua 5:9
Holidays in which the entire extended family would come together were some of the most joyful times of my childhood. I rarely spent time with my cousins and so we’d pick up where we left off, usually with some playful banter and fun games like “Red Light, Green Light” or “Simon Says”. Yet, everyone knew the highlight of those get-togethers: the massive spread of really good food.
On this particular occasion, we kids were getting restless waiting for the smoked ham and dressing and turkey to be ready. It seemed to take forever. And we were hungry. To appease our grumbling, we are allowed to “snack” on some of the variety of chips that was prepared on a separate table. We didn’t snack on those chips. We devoured them like there was no tomorrow. And by the time the real meal was ready, we had no appetite left. As others enjoyed sinking their teeth into that tender slice of glazed ham, we just sort of sat in misery, feeling foolish and ashamed of our impatience and greed.
I do not normally get too emotional. But as I read the above passage in Joshua during my quiet time with the Lord, tears begin to half-way fill my eyes. I asked God, “What was the reproach of Egypt” for these Israelites?”
No doubt, the phrase refers to the 40 years spent wandering in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. The wilderness was very hard to endure. It was a time of trials and suffering. In the eyes of Egypt and the rest of the world, Israel must have looked like a complete failure. They had no place to call home. They possessed nothing to build upon and pass on to the next generation. Their meals consisted of something called “manna” which they ate day after day without variance. I honestly cannot imagine enduring that kind of struggle for such an extended period of time.
Or maybe I can. Maybe all true believers can.
The call to be a follower of Jesus Christ in this world is very similar to wandering in the thirsty wilderness. We must endure great hardships as we strive towards that great celestial city (Acts 14:22). And yet, much like my experience at the family gathering, we believers often lose our patience with the present time. We get duped into pursuing and settling for much lesser and less satisfying earthly delights, when there is a great banquet awaiting us—one that will satisfy the hungry soul in ways we cannot begin to fathom (Roman 8:18).
For many of you, times may be exceeding hard for you to endure. It may seem like the surrounding crowd is fairing much better in comparison. Don’t lose your confidence and hope (Hebrews 10:35). The reproach will one day be rolled away. And you will enter into that Promise Land where all of this life’s pain and suffering will be no more. And all that shall be known is eternal joy and the whole-hearted praise to the One who rolls away the reproach of Egypt.