Taking risks and trusting God


By Joyce Holdread | PREVIEW Columnist

Momentous events are so understated in the scriptures. 

Can you imagine being a midwife and receiving the instruction from the highest authority in the land to kill all baby boys you usher into the world? That was the command of the Pharaoh to the Hebrew midwives during the time of their enslavement in Egypt. But they were God-fearing and defied his orders, allowing every child, male or female, to be drawn forth into life. They could have been killed themselves for such defiance. That was the risk Shiphrah and Puah took; they valued the word of Yahweh more than the dictum of Pharaoh. And, indeed, God preserved them — do we know the personal names of any other midwives in the Bible?

Can you imagine bundling up your 3-month-old infant, placing him in a basket of reeds stuck together with pitch, and setting him down to be carried wherever on the current of a huge river? That was the risk Moses’ mother took to save his life. Granted, she placed him among the bull rushes along the Nile’s edge, which lessened the river’s force. Still, even slight current, over time, could carry the basket to deeper, more forceful waters. There bigger waves could slosh into the basket, chilling him or maybe even drowning him. And he still needed to be fed every few hours.

And can you imagine hiding among the cattails, quivering in your 12-year-old skin as you stand guard over this basket? What can you do if it begins to drift away? Wade into the water after it? The river bottom might suddenly drop out from under you, and you can’t swim. And, venomous snakes slither along the riverbanks and swim in its waters. Crocodiles, lurking in nearby swamps, can snap you in half with one mash of their jagged jaws. Those were the risks Miriam took to keep watch over her baby brother. A final risk was confronting Pharaoh’s daughter. There aren’t many preteens who would engage the princess of the land in an inquiry about finding a woman to nurse a baby who was not supposed to even be alive.

Finally, can you imagine gathering your royal attendants around you and ambling down to the warm riverside to bathe? You are curious when you spy a basket floating among the reeds. You tell your handmaid to retrieve it. You open it and peer down upon a small babe crying his heart out. You realize he must be one of the ill-fated Hebrew infants. You are moved with compassion and ignore your father’s directive. You decide to keep him and raise him as your own. You know your father can have you severely punished, perhaps even put to death. That was the risk Pharaoh’s daughter took to accept and raise this child.

All these women trusted God or allowed compassion to overrule their fear in the life-or-death risks they took to save this baby. I’m not sure they regarded, or even expected, any reward. However, God honored their courage and fulfilled their very basic desires — even in a time of hardship and privation. The midwives were granted families of their own; Moses’ mother saw her baby saved, and she herself was able to care for him until he was weaned; Miriam was able to bring about her brother’s rescue; Pharaoh’s daughter, perhaps childless, gained a son.

They each responded in the way of love, even at great personal risk, not knowing the end result. But the miraculous deliverance from Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea, the giving of the Ten Commandments, the provision of manna in the wilderness, the conquering and settling of the Promised Land may never have occurred — except for the courage and compassion of five brave women.

This column may include both fiction and nonfiction, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN. Submissions can be sent to editor@pagosasun.com.