A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. Knowing this, God sculpted and shaped a vivid picture of hope deferred in the form of a mountain - wouldn't you know it would be a mountain! Rugged. Barren. Big. Its very name Horeb, means “desolation, a waste place, barrenness, dryness” - all synonyms of hope deferred. I sometimes think of this mountain when praying for America.
This is the place where Moses ended up for much of his forty-year exile, shoveling dung instead of bathing in royal hot tubs. There can be no more severe case of hope deferred than what Moses experienced, having lost his royal inheritance and, it seemed, his destiny. I realize “it ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” but after disappearing for forty years, a dream is usually over.
But thankfully, like many mountains, Horeb had treasure hidden within it. Not only would this barren piece of rock be a picture of exile-induced heart disease, but it would also become a glorious example of conquered hope deferred and healed heart disease. Horeb gives you a glimpse of life on the other side of your pain. The events associated with this place portray God’s amazing ability to heal, restore hope and purpose, and bring beautiful treasure from ugly mountains. Horeb didn’t remain horrible for Moses, and it won’t for you either.
The transformation of Horeb became so complete, its power so harnessed by the hand of God, that it eventually became known as “the mountain of God.” (Exodus 3:1). It just doesn’t get any better than that! God can so transform the Horeb seasons of your life that one day all you will see when you look back at them is Him. “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, emphasis added).
There is gold in this mountain, and you will find it!
This became especially real to me a few years back when I found myself in a season of hope deferred, much of which had been caused by rejection and betrayal. While seeking the Lord for comfort one afternoon, He threw me quite a curve. “I need for you to embrace the pain,” He spoke very clearly.
What a strange and seemingly cruel statement to hear from a loving Father who supposedly had great plans for my welfare and a future filled with hope. I did not realize, however, that God wanted more than to simply remove my pain; He also wanted to use it.
God never wastes your pain; before He removes it, He makes it serve you. Horeb will become your gym and the pharaoh who sent you there your trainer. And ultimately, like God, whose nature you inherited, you will win. He always wins, and so can you.
I want to be very clear that God wasn’t telling me betrayal is good, nor that He caused it. God doesn’t cause evil, but He does make it serve Him – and us. He needed for me to embrace the pain, not so I could hurt, but in order to grab it, wrestle it to the mat, and claim my prize!
God doesn’t call evil good, as some people are prone to do. Pain isn’t good; it tells you something is wrong. Death is an enemy. Emotional wounds can break your heart. God doesn’t make light of your pain, and He isn’t playing weird mind games with you, trying to convince you that bad is good.
He is saying, however, that no matter how great the wound and deep the pain, He knows how to heal and transform it. And not just into scar tissue. He will use its lessons to make you better, healthier, richer, and well positioned for a fulfilling future.
Horeb isn’t terminal!
Learn these lessons from this ugly mountain, and find the buried treasure you can take from it. One of the first things Horeb will have taught you, and one of the most important, is the power of perseverance. Don’t downplay this one – it’s huge. Waiting isn’t easy, and nothing truer can be said than that waiting is associated with hope deferred. Learning to wait without wavering will make you successful in life. God wants to strengthen your endurance through your experience at Horeb so that you can be like the distance runner who can run long distances without damaging the heart or lungs.
Moses is one of the all-time record holders for waiting. After fleeing from Pharaoh and becoming an object lesson on deferred hopes and diseased hearts for 40 years, he found it hard to believe God could ever use him again – let alone awaken his dreaming heart. But after a season of arguing with God on this mountain (see Exodus 3-4), he decided to give it a try and became the all-time greatest poster boy for restored hope. Sometimes the perceived death of a vision is really just waiting for its divine time! That’s why persistence is so crucial.
This could prove to be one of the greatest assets you’ll mine from this mountain. Rick DeVos, the co-founder of Amway and former owner of the Orlando Magic basketball team, says of persistence:
“Persistence is the single most important ingredient of success in life…When confronted with a failure or disappointment, you have only two choices: You can give up, or you can persist…If I could pass on one character trait to young people in the world – one single quality that would help them achieve success in life – it would be persistence. It’s more important than intellect, athletic ability, good looks or personal magnetism. Persistence comes from a deep place in the soul. It is a God-given compensation for what we lack in other areas of our life. Never underestimate its power.”(1)
All great men and women have learned to persevere. Galatians 6:9 encourages us to do so without losing heart: “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
Sometimes, like Moses, your wait is because you have not yet arrived at God’s “due time.” The words “due time” in this verse come from the Greek phrase, “idios kairos” and, when fully understood, are filled with reason to persevere. Kairos means “the right time; the opportune point in time at which something should be done.” The second word, idios, denotes “ownership.”
This verse is telling you to not lose heart while waiting for something God has promised you, because you own a right time for the promise to arrive. Knowing this sure does make waiting easier.
I’ve waited over 35 years for America’s - and the entire world’s - next great wave of revival. Twenty-five of those years have been on the front lines. Not quite as long as Moses, Caleb, and Joshua, but I can see their tail lights. During that span, my nation has become a Horeb - desolate, barren, and dry - but I’m starting to see “burning bushes” and hear awakening words from heaven. Open your eyes, see the flame, and listen to the God of resurrection life: “America shall be saved, the bones will live, and I WILL have my harvest!”
Pray with me:
Father, thank You for giving us inspirational stories in Your Word, for allowing us to see into the lives of overcomers and heroes. Thank You for showing us their challenges, failures, and recoveries. You are the God who makes Horeb serve us. You tell us unequivocally that Horeb is meant to be conquered and turned into a place of strength and breakthrough. We have all visited this mountain, and our entire nation now lives there.
But God - YOU!
You have not given up on America - because You have not given up on the earth. We’ve been knocked down, but You, our Trainer/Manager, have not “thrown in the towel.” To the contrary, You are in our corner with the smelling salts, water bottles, and Holy Spirit’s power.
We see the burning bush and we are listening for Your voice (Exodus 3). We have seen the bones coming together and can hear them rattling - not the death rattle, as some would contend - but the rattling of realignment (Ezekiel 37). We can hear Your laugh of derision toward Your enemies as You listen to them decree their supposed victory over You (Psalm 2).
And now we decree Your words over this nation: “America shall be saved.”
We decree over the nations: “You are the inheritance of Jesus Christ and He will have members in His family from every one of you.”
We decree over our prodigals and family members: “We shall be saved, and so shall our household.”
And we declare over the workers of iniquity in this nation: “The King is coming to shake you from your positions of power.”
We decree that our desolation and barrenness is being infused with resurrection life.
Portions of today’s post were taken from my book The Power of Hope.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Rich DeVos, Hope From My Heart (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), pp. 27, 33.