The Joy of Renewal
Yael Eckstein | March 22, 2021
“And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.” — Exodus 3:9
This week, beginning on Saturday, March 27, my family and I will join Jews around the world in celebrating the most important event in Jewish history — the Exodus and redemption of the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt. In preparation for that biblically mandated observance, I offer you these devotions related to the Passover holiday.
In Judaism, the Exodus from Egypt is often compared to the birthing process. It was only after I had gone through that experience myself that I truly appreciated what it meant.
Giving birth is both a beautiful and miraculous process, and a difficult, painful one. This is true for both mother and child. Consider the experience from the perspective of the baby. The baby is resting comfortably in the womb when suddenly there is incredible pressure and pushing. The baby becomes very uncomfortable, possibly stressed or even afraid. The contractions continue until the baby reaches a narrow passageway.
Just when the situation seems hopeless and the pressure becomes unbearable, the baby is born. The baby enters a new world and a new life begins to the joy of the mother and father! Indeed, when talking about the grief his disciples would soon face in the days to come, Jesus in the Christian Bible also likened it to the birthing process: “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (John 16:20-21).
The Joy of Renewal
The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitzrayim. The word comes from a Hebrew word that means “narrow straits” or “constriction.” Egypt was seen as a narrow place, similar to the birth canal. The children of Israel were stressed, oppressed, compressed; literally caught in a narrow place where they found themselves sandwiched between the Egyptians and the Red Sea.
But just like the birth process, the stress and confinement were all part of the plan. The birthing pains eventually led to the joy of renewal. When the Israelites couldn’t stand it any longer, they threw up their hands and said, “We are powerless God and only You can help!” At that point, the sea split, the Israelites left Egypt for good, and a new nation was formed.
One of the key messages of Passover is that stress and pressure can lead to the joy of rebirth and renewal when we bring God into the process. Our lives often feel overwhelming, like we cannot do it all on our own. And it’s true, we can’t handle everything alone. Once we realize that only God can help us through, the burden is lifted.
Instead of being stressed, we can rest, knowing that everything we accomplish is only possible because of generous help from above. We experience life in a totally new way. We are reborn!
Where do you feel pressure in your life? What are the stress points for you? Release those worries to God, and give yourself new life, new energy, and new possibilities.