We reveal who we truly are in how we respond when the stakes feel high. The higher the stakes, the more vivid and accurate the self-revelation. In those moments, our actions scream truth louder than any spoken claim or image portrayed. Will we do the hard-right thing, though it might come with a lofty cost, or will we choose that which feels convenient or safe?
I say feels because I’ve discovered the opposite is true. When we choose self-preservation above integrity, we begin to chip away at those things which are good and strong and admirable within while growing all that is ugly and false until one day we look back and wonder what we’ve done and who we’ve become.
Scripture is filled with such powerful examples, stark contrasts, between those who chose to act with courage and integrity though faced with seemingly impossible circumstances; seemingly impossible odds and those who pursued what was easy, convenient, or “safe.” Their actions created ripple effects of good or evil felt for generations; the fallout of their lives recorded for all time.
Consider the unnamed mother in Exodus 2. She lived during a horrific, terrifying, seemingly hopeless time in ancient Israel’s history. They’d been living in oppression and slavery for 400 years in Egypt. Fearing this emerging and rapidly growing people group would join forces with their allies, the Egyptians did all they could to beat them down. When this didn’t work, the Pharaoh “gave this order to all his people: ‘Throw every newborn boy into the Nile River.’”
A man named Moses was born during this dark time in history. Initially, his mom hid him for three months. This took such courage! Doing this placed her and her entire family in great danger. No doubt, if the authorities discovered what she’d done, they’d make her and her family a public example of what happened to those who tried to defy the Pharaoh.
Three months is a long time to live in terror.
A long time when it would be easy to talk yourself out of doing the hard-right thing.
A long time to be praying and praying, seeming to get no answers and no help from God.
A long, long time to hear the anguish all around her as other Hebrew boys were ripped from their mother’s arms to be drowned in the Nile.
But she remained courageous.
When it became impossible to keep the child hidden, and likely when it felt as if she created a basket using reeds and waterproofing it with tar, placed the baby inside, and brought the child to the Nile River.
Can you imagine how long that walk to the river must have felt? The terror every step must’ve brought? One cry from the baby inside her basket would alert the Egyptian slave drivers to what she was doing. One peek into the basket, one question, “What do you have there,” could’ve resulted in her death, if not worse. Likely worse, again, to make an example of her to all the other Hebrew moms who might be tempted to courageously rescue their children as well.
Again, a long time to talk herself out of every courageous step. Was she really doing the right thing? What about the rest of her family? What if her actions harmed not just them, but all of her people and resulted in all the fathers, the progenitors, death as well? But she kept walking, and hid her beloved child in the reeds. And she likely couldn’t fathom any way this child could be saved. But she knew she had to do something. She couldn’t simply sit back and allow his murder.
And then, the miracle happened.
Scripture tells us:
“Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. ‘This is one of the Hebrew babies,’ she said.
“Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?’
“‘Yes, go,’ she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.’ So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water'” (Ex. 2:5-10, NIV).
Not only did God intervene and rescue her child, but He did so using someone from among her enemies! From within the Pharaoh’s household. One day, the Pharaoh’s daughter—daughter of the very man that had caused such horrific evil!—came to the Nile to bathe, saw the basket, and had her servant draw the child out. She recognized he was a Hebrew boy. Logic says she would’ve been outraged and, following in her father’s steps, had him killed. But she didn’t. She rescued him and called for a Hebrew woman to nurse (care for) the child until he was weaned. But not just any Hebrew woman. The child’s own mother.
While most of us, thankfully, won’t find ourselves in such dire, literally life-or-death, situations, we are living in dark times. We all have countless opportunities to do the hard right thing. Our response reveals and builds who we are at our core.
What hard right thing is God asking you to do this Christmas season?
Share your thoughts, stories, and insights with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other!
Speaking of doing the right hard thing, I invite you to listen to our latest Faith Over Fear podcast episode on finding the courage to seek reconciliation.
The Courage to Love Those Who Are Hard to Love (Pt 2) – Ep. 82 – Faith Over Fear
And speaking of relationships, make sure to save the date for Wholly Loved’s upcoming online Mother Daughter’s conference.