Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.

Someone was telling me about another person they had conversed with. They made the observation about that individual, that they just seemed ‘defeated’.

We saw yesterday that the preacher must speak God’s Word whether or not it is received.

But the preacher needs to understand that members of the congregation may be carrying things which make it hard for them to accept and respond to the message – even though the living word  offers them freedom. Maybe they feel they’ve heard it all before. Or they think it might work for others, but it doesn’t work for them. They are ground down by life, and so is their expectation.

You may know the saying attributed to Socrates (the philosopher, not the footballer!):

‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.’

The preacher needs to remember that the people in the pews are not machines or automata. They have their struggles. Many of them have dragged their weary, discouraged, fearful, hurting, maybe even doubtful, selves into church. But they are there all the same. Some are unwell, perhaps in pain. There are the sick in mind as well as body. Socrates was right, they all have some kind of struggle. Or if they are not going through one currently, they have been through one (or several) in the past, or they’re going to go through one (or more) in the future. Life can be hard.

We all bring our weather-beaten souls into the sanctuary. (Let the congregation ever remember that this also applies to their leaders. They are not machines either! Pray for them).

Notice that the people’s lack of response did not alter God’s plan to set them free (10,11). Again, we marvel at, and are grateful for the grace and mercy of God.

‘…they were too discouraged and disillusioned to believe. Often we deprive ourselves of God’s comfort and encouragement by turning away from Him rather than listening to His word.

On the other hand, people who are terribly crushed down have great difficulty with believing, hoping, persevering; this was certainly true for the Israelites. So God didn’t wait for them to believe his words; instead, He began to act on their behalf. He knew their weakness and their suffering. And in mercy He came to their rescue.

God sometimes waits until we reach the end of our strength, and then He acts; that way we will know it was God who delivered us, and not we ourselves. “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” ‘ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, pp. 216, 217.