shadow of a person on a hill at sunrise

Exodus 17:8-16

There is an Old Testament story that tells us about the battle between Joshua and Amalek. The Amalekites had come up against the Israelites at Rephidim (which translated means resting place). Exodus 17 tells us that Israel’s caregiver, Moses, said to Joshua “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

As Joshua fought the Amalekites in the valley of Rephidim, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill with Moses. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites would prevail, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites prevailed. When Moses’ hands grew tired, Aaron and Hur took a stone and put it under Moses and he sat on it and then Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands so Israel would prevail.

It is interesting to me how this story paints the picture of the struggles and needs of a caregiver. Although the story is given to us to show how God intercedes on our behalf even when we do not see His presence, it can have other interpretations that provide us comfort in the midst of our battles ever though the players might take on different incarnations, the strength of the images can provide comfort to a troubled soul.

Joshua represents a child with special needs. He is the real warrior, the one fighting the battles and facing the ever-present danger of succumbing to the wounds inflicted by the enemy.

Moses represents the caregiver. The one charged with the responsibility to maintain a posture that produces victory and weariness in the same moment. The one who must watch the battle rage and yet rise above it to do what needs to be done.

The staff of God represents the weight of the world pressing down on the arms of the caregiver as gravity pulls harder every passing minute and forces the strength of the caregiver to weaken as the battle rages on.

Aaron and Hur represent those who walk in relationship with the caregiver, who rejoice when the caregiver rejoices and weeps when the caregiver weeps.  Who recognize the needs of the caregiver and provide the support without being asked.

Although Joshua fought the physical battle, Moses had to fight the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual one. Moses stood on the top of the hill while Joshua fought against Amalek. And although Moses was not in the battle, without him holding up the staff of God, Joshua didn’t stand a chance against Amalek.

As it was with Moses and Joshua, so it is with the child with special needs. Without the caregiver, the child with special needs doesn’t stand a chance. The caregiver is standing on the hill watching the battle rage on and from an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual point of view, struggles to bear the weight of the world.

Just as Moses probably wanted Joshua to quickly prevail because it would mean relief from the stress of lifting up the staff of God, the caregiver searches for a solution to the suffering of the child because it will ultimately mean relief for the caregiver.

But standing on top of the hill does not make the caregiver immune from the effects of the battle. Although Joshua was fighting with the sword, Moses was holding up the staff of God and Joshua’s success hinged on Moses’ strength to keep his hands lifted up. In addition to fighting the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual battles that rage on within, the caregiver is also performing the physical tasks that cause one to become weary.

The story tells us that Moses’ hands grew tired. As long as Moses was able to hold his hands up, Joshua prevailed, but as soon as his hands grew weary and dropped, Amalek prevailed. You see, the child with special needs can overcome the physical battles so long as the caregiver has the strength to lift up the staff of God. To bear up under the weight of the world. But when the caregiver can no longer bear the stress of the situation, he or she weakens and the arms begin to fall and the child with special needs begins to lose the battle.

When Moses’ strength began to fail, Aaron and Hur provided the necessary support, but so often the caregiver is charged to lift his or her arms without support. And when the caregiver loses strength, the enemy prevails.

While Joshua fought, Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. Aaron and Hur were with Moses from the beginning and when Moses struggled to keep his hands lifted up, Aaron and Hur provided the support he needed. Aaron and Hur did not receive word that Moses was struggling and then left of the camp of Israel to go help. They were with him from the beginning and when they saw him begin to struggle, they went into action.

They provided Moses with a place to sit and they held up his arms. The story tells us that they found a rock and placed it under him so he could sit. This required physical effort on the part of Aaron and Hur. They did not take Moses to the rock, they brought the rock to Moses. And then they stood beside him, supporting his arms, keeping the staff of God lifted up.

Moses did not have to say “Aaron and Hur, come up here, I am struggling.” They went with him and when they saw him struggle, they provided the help necessary without being asked. They did not ask Moses “Is there anything we can do?” They knew what he needed because they were present with Moses from the beginning.

Unfortunately, that is not the reality for most caregivers of a child with special needs. As the battle increases with intensity, the caregiver’s world grows smaller and life moves at a slower pace because of the constant physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual friction created by wanting to experience life, but instead having to manage life and provide care.

A caregiver who lacks the structural support of family and friends experiences a world that has become a sort of prison from where there is no escape. Yet, while the world of a caregiver is smaller and less active, the world around the caregiver gets larger and spins at an ever increasing rate and often in a different direction.

As the battle rages on, the caregiver grows weary and without the support necessary to bear the weight of the world in which he or she exists, the caregiver tires and the enemy begins to prevail. For as the caregiver wearies, the child with special needs is left to fight the battle on his or her own.

So often those with good intentions are focused on the one fighting the battle (Joshua) and fail to look to the top of the hill. They fail to see the caregiver lifting up his or her arms with the weight of the world pressing down. No one was there when the caregiver climbed the hill. No one was there when the battle began. No one was there when the caregiver first raised his or her hands to ensure that the child with special needs would prevail. And often times no one is there to recognize the needs of the caregiver and to provide the rock upon which to sit and the strength by which to support his or her arms.

Aaron and Hur were not there for a few minutes, but for the duration of the battle. As long as the battle raged on, Aaron and Hur remained by Moses’ side and provided what was necessary so that Joshua would prevail. And here is an interesting little tid-bit. If Joshua won, Israel won and if Israel won, those who were with Moses, though they did not fight, still received the spoils of victory. So what does that say for those who stand with and support those who are caregivers for a child with special needs?

The final picture painted by this story is a profound truth of God. And it introduces the intercession of Jesus Christ for those engaged in the battle. The child with special needs is in a battle. One that not even the caregiver can understand. And as the caregiver stands on the hill lifting his or her hands up to bear the weight of the world of caring for the child with special needs, God is giving the warrior the strength to stand strong and fight with a courage beyond comprehension.

In the end, the message of this story is clear. Every Joshua needs a Moses and every Moses needs an Aaron and Hur. If you know a Moses, then you need to choose. Are you going to be an Aaron and a Hur or are you going to be an Amalek. Because when you fail to help lift up the arms of a caregiver, you are in a figurative way, contributing to the battle.


Written by Ken_Rupert

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  1. Ken, this was such a moving piece, drawing parallels between the struggles of caregivers today and the timeless story of Moses and Joshua. Your insights into the challenges faced by caregivers resonated deeply with me. I’ve witnessed firsthand how the responsibilities of caregiving can weigh heavily on individuals, often unnoticed by those around them.

    Your analogy of Aaron and Hur supporting Moses struck a chord with me. It’s a powerful reminder of the importance of offering support and encouragement to caregivers, who often bear the weight of the world on their shoulders.

    Just as Aaron and Hur provided strength to Moses, we can all play a role in supporting caregivers in our communities.

    Your message about the intercession of Jesus in the battle is profound and offers hope to caregivers facing tough challenges. It underscores the importance of faith and perseverance in difficult times.

    As I reflect on your words, I’m reminded of the importance of planning for the future and building a legacy of support for those who will carry on our responsibilities. Much like Moses prepared Joshua to lead the Israelites, we must also think ahead and ensure that those who come after us are equipped to continue the journey we started.

    Thank you for sharing such a thought-provoking piece. It’s a reminder of the importance of compassion, support, and faith in navigating life’s challenges.

  2. It would have been enough, o Lord, if it was just Parkinson’s he was dealing with. It would have been enough, o Lord, if it was also bronchiectasis he was dealing with. It would have been enough, o Lord, if it wasn’t immediately before our anniversary. What is enough, as You’ve heard me pray constantly, is his lack of sleep. Yet, this story regarding Moses has long been a favorite of mine. I needed to see this caregiving wife story in this way.
    Good thing he can’t see me tearing up as I read it. I’m quite grateful to the writer, and I appreciate it.

  3. This ” burden” was on me and I looked up ‘Joshua and Hur’ and this article (Angel) came up “AND BLEST MY SOUL”! I hadn’t even identified that I was weakening in caregiver mode, as I am ‘a retired RN’. Thank God for this insight, and thank you too…The Bible does say, “In all your getting, get understanding” ?

  4. Wow. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on that.

  5. Wow! this is quite an amazing piece… So many lessons to be learnt from this… I bless Jesus Christ for releasing such words through His Holy Spirit. Praise God! More grace to this writer… so triggered to share this article…

  6. why god command moses to record and tell joshua about recording the events that took place against the amalekiittes

  7. Hebrews 13:8 readily comes to mind: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday today and forever (KJV)”. Surely God has spoken through you today, albeit in a different yet powerful way.

  8. Very deep.
    Fully filled with this insight. More Grace to do exploit for us to also absorb.

  9. This is a deep, and emotional way of describing the Bible text. I am in tears because of the thoughts that it forced me to see. God has a way of speaking to us in our time of need that create the opening of our souls. He allows his word to penetrate our heart to feel the intense message that He has sent to us.

    I have heard this passage in a Sermon, and have studied it myself for a international prayer, But you have produced a reality that I will often refer to as a Caregiver.

    Dr. Stephanie Pope

  10. Wow, if anyone wonders or questions wether God speaks today, i can and do testify that He does !
    Last night while questioning myself why i felt so drained and helpless ( as my Son is very critical from a dirt bike accident 9 days ago ) to pray, God brought this Scripture to mind in my spirit.
    He put it this way you are not weak, of lil faith, muchless faithless, but you are humane and grow tired ( stress, restlessness etc.. ) thats why I’ve surrounded you with prayer warriors who will lift up your arms ( and lift up arms on your behalf in battle ) just as with Moses ( and here i am reading this today, confirming what He said yesterday ), so im forever greatfull to all prayer warriors, and encourage you to call upon Him, and if possible call on your church family thats why God put us there !!
    I don’t know our outcome but God has once again confirmed that He never leaves us nor forsakes us…
    God bless
    ( pls foward if possible, keep the faith and stay safe )

  11. Thank you. I realize that I am a caregiver of sorts, living with and caring for a spouse who is struggling with several issues. I have become very discouraged at not seeing “improvements” I am expecting & yet still trying to cherish him & actively love. A church friend contacted me showing support. That support helps me so much. I had fallen into a hopeless discouragement, but know I can go on with the Lord’s power & the support of fellow believers.


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