Ex 1:12a "But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew."
I think that the children of Israel understood the saying: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." After Joseph brought seventy people from his family to Egypt something happened. They had kids. And more kids. And more kids. After a while, they got huge and the king in Egypt who did not know Joseph (he must not have known his Egyptian history) got scared. He thought that Egypt would be taken over by the Jews so he made their lives hard. Not just hard, but painful. Not just painful, but excruciating. "They made their lives bitter with hard bondage…" v14, and they were living what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. The more they afflicted them, the harder it became, the more pain they endured, the more they multiplied and grew.
I know that I am a wimp. I don't like hard stuff. I don't like it when things get tough. I would rather stay in my comfort zone and have smooth sailing. Unfortunately, that is not what life brings all the time. Life has a tendency to get hard. Life has a tendency to bring pain. Life sometimes can get excruciating. Life can bring us failure and loss and hardship. The weird thing is, the very thing that you think will take you down can bring you up. The difficulty that looks like it will destroy you actually makes you multiply and grow.
I am thinking of a friend right now, Joe. Joe has battled cancer for years. At one point in time, they thought he had it beat. Unfortunately, cancer has this thing about rearing its ugly head and it returned. Now they are trying to figure out where it is coming from. And Joe? He keeps getting stronger. He keeps growing. He said to me the other day: "They can take my body but they can't take my spirit." What an example.
Then I think of another friend of mine who is trying to work through a difficult marital situation. I am watching him walk through this and am praying for him and his wife daily. The thing that I am seeing is that this guy is growing. He is not just enduring, he is getting stronger.
After all this is what James said: "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance." James 1:2 It doesn't produced failure. It doesn't produce loss. It doesn't produce weakness. It produces endurance, growth, multiplication.
I just hope and pray that when tough times come, I can see multiplication and growth…just like the Israelites, just like the early church, just like my friends.