Day 18: ‘Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not let the people go.’ Exodus 8:32.
From Chapter’s 7 through 11 in the Book of Exodus, eleven times we read some form of these words, ‘Pharaoh’s heart became hard’. Eleven times! These chapters are of course from the ten plagues sent by God upon Egypt to prove to Pharaoh that the God of the Israelites demands their freedom. Ten plagues in all and all because Pharaoh’s heart was hardened to the will of God and to the welfare of God’s people
If I am honest with myself I too have a hard heart many times and it causes bad things to happen. My bad experiences, my hurts, my difficulties taken together can harden my heart toward God, his direction and will for my life. My heart also becomes hardened to people in my life who hurt, harass and even simply annoy me. Maybe worse of all my heart has become hardened toward those whom I have been called to love such as my family, parishioners, and the least of these in society.
The tragedy of hardened hearts are two fold. First are broken relationships. Marriages do not fail overnight. It is often a progression of little steps. A harsh word here, lack of follow through there, you know how it often goes. Until one day the marriage is over and the couple wonders how they became so distant and hard hearted toward one another. Sadly the same is true with God when we harden our hearts. We begin so close and one day we find ourselves distant wondering if we will ever be close again.
Second, the result is God’s will can not be accomplished. Think of it as a football team who is fighting with each other and not understanding and anticipating each other’s play calls or actions on the field. The result will be a team that can not accomplish their goals of moving down the field and scoring touchdowns. So too with us and God if we are not in communication, in strong relationship with God, we can not hear, reside in or accomplish God’s will.
Hardening our hearts inevitably leads to broken relationships and broken roads. But the Good News is that with God all things are possible. God gave pharaoh nine opportunities to soften his heart towards his will and his people before the final plague that resulted in his son’s death. God never stops trying and never gives up on us. Yes there are consequences in our lives due to the hardening of our hearts, but even in our brokenness God is always attempting to soften our hearts. It is never, ever too late to soften our hearts. Our future may now be different, but God can and will bless it wherever we are.
All we need to do is to say yes to God; the easiest and hardest action toward God that we will ever do.