So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. (Exodus 17:11-13)
Not long after the Israelites had come into the wilderness after fleeing Egypt, a man named Amalek, a descendant of Esau (Jacob’s brother), came against the Israelites with his army. The Israelites didn’t have a lot of weapons of warfare with them…they had left Egypt with only what they could carry. What they had, however, was the staff of God, which Moses carried.
So Moses told Joshua that he would position himself on the hill and hold up the staff during the battle, even as he had held it up to part the Red Sea while the Israelites walked through.
As Joshua and his army came against Amalek and his army, they were victorious as long as Moses’ held the staff up. But like most battles, it was long and arduous, and Moses’ arm got tired. A few times, he laid it down to rest his weary arm, and immediately, Amalek got the upper hand. So Moses’ brother Aaron and a friend of theirs named Hur stationed themselves on either side of Moses, and held his arms up so that Joshua was victorious.
This story has become very personal to me recently. As a mom, I’m wrapping up 17 years with my oldest daughter, who goes away to college on the other side of the country in about 3 weeks. And these last two years have been among the most difficult I’ve ever had with my daughter…not because she’s not a good kid…but because she’s tried me in ways I’ve never had to deal with before. As she’s readied herself for adulthood, she’s kicked hard against the womb of my protection, my counsel and my discipline. She wants to get out, to be delivered into her new life, into her new freedom, but at the same time, she wants me to run around her and help keep all her plates in the air so they don’t come crashing down. She wants to be treated like an equal, and doesn’t want to keep following the rules, or to do what I ask. We have had a number of very painful fights–loud, angry, ugly fights.
Many times I’ve looked at her and wondered if my parenting has had any impact at all. I have felt, more often than not, that I have failed as a mother. It is during these times that I have turned to my “Aaron” and my “Hur” so that they can hold my arms up, because I feel like I am so tired and I can’t hold them up by myself anymore. And these friends have been there for me, counseling me, encouraging me, and giving me a fresh perspective.
Last night, one of these dear friends was standing with me in my driveway chatting, and my daughter came out briefly from the house to retrieve something from her car. I asked her a question and she answered it thoughtfully. When she went back in the house, my friend looked at me and said, “She’s a good kid. She’s going to be fine. There are some things you can just tell by observing people.”
Those few words meant a lot. It was a pat on the back to me, a support of my arms. It renewed my strength to push on, and finish well.
Everywhere around you are people…mothers, fathers and even single people who have a battle in their lives, and like Moses, they’re holding out the staff of God–their faith and their convictions–to win the battle. But it’s easy to get weary. If you know what’s going on in their lives, do what you can to support them. Even simply checking in with them to let them know you’re praying for them makes a huge difference. My same friend sent me a text the other day to ask me how it was going, and to let me know her prayers were ongoing. It was huge. I felt renewed, just knowing someone was helping to bear my burdens.