Choices, Circumstances, control, Disappointments, divorce, God in control, God's wisdom, goodness of God, prayer, Promised Land, sovereignty, Spirit promptings

Hardened Hearts

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I will never in a million years understand how our free-will and God’s sovereignty work together. It’s a great mystery. We are given free-will to make our own choices yet God is in control. A well known story in the Bible is a perfect example of my quandary: the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. In case you aren’t familiar with it or need a refresher, this scene from Exodus sets the stage:

(God said to Moses.) “You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt he will not listen to you….And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it” (Exodus 7:2-5).

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. How does free-will fit into this scene?

As I prayed the other day for a friend of mine who lost his job, I saw a picture in my mind of Pharaoh. I’m not sure how I knew that vision was of Pharaoh (I’ve never met him personally) but I just knew. And I knew that what I envisioned as I prayed was God’s prompting and promise. He was reminding me of His sovereignty in circumstances and His goodness, favor, power, and love.

Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? To demonstrate His power, reality, and goodness. He also proved His choice of people. He validated the Israelites. They are forever His chosen ones. His favorites.

As I continued to pray for my friend who lost his job, another person came to mind. This dear friend is going through a divorce. Though she lives states away, during phone visits I walk through  many emotions with her as she shares her heartbreak and grief. In so many words, when a husband either demands or resigns to a divorce, the wife reads his choice as “He doesn’t want me.”

I know I’m about to step onto slippery ground here, but what if….what if God allowed my friend’s husband’s heart to be hardened?

“Oh Andy, God hates divorce! He would never do that!”

Yes God doesn’t like divorce, but I’m not so sure he would never do this.

But I am sure that God is good.

I still haven’t figured out the dichotomy of free-will and God’s sovereignty, but I have come to the conclusion that I must rest on His goodness. I must trust that He loves my friends who are walking through the shadows of rejection and disappointment, and He desires to take them out of places of bondage into His promised land.

Yes, sometimes God hardens hearts.

We must trust Him.

Have you ever experienced a hardened heart–either your own or someone else’s? Did resting in God’s sovereignty help you? If you’ve struggled with this, I pray this post will help.

God loves you.

Much grace,


And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance to God’s will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:27-28).



  1. Kay

    I’m pondering your statements – not disagreeing or agreeing with them – just pondering. It’s really the best place to be, because there is so much more we cannot know here with our limited minds. Too often, rather than openly question those things that really deserve questioning (even when there are no settled answers that we can find), we declare “This is the way it is.” I think that’s when our hearts become increasingly hardened – not by God, but by our choices. But I don’t know that this is the only time they are hardened.

    My biggest question would come in concerning the scenario with Pharaoh happening before Jesus came on the scene to pay the price for sin forever for all. I understand it more before Jesus, but believe Jesus made a difference.

    Again, Andy, I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with you. Think I’m more questioning along with you.

    Thanks for being vulnerable enough to be honest with your questions and your understandings. It makes it easier to relate to your writing.

    Love you, Andy!

    1. Hey Kay, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think considering that Jesus’s death and life could be key here is interesting. I can always count on you to challenge me! (In a good way.) But I’ve experienced the hardening of my own heart before. When it happened, it was strange. I implored of the Lord to show me if it was of my own doing or His. He led me to 2 Chronicles 16:9. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. The word translated as strengthen is the same Hebrew word used in Pharaoh’s story. One of the definitions in the Lexical Aids of my Key-Word Study Bible for Hazaq is “to harden”. In my time with the Lord that day I felt confirmation that His hand played a role in what I was experiencing. Months later the person to whom my heart had become hard told me she thanked God for it because it pushed her toward Him. Honestly, it made me let go and trust God to take care of her, and He did. So….anyway…those are my experiences with these theological debates. love you lots! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

  2. jude jorge

    You are SO right. I can look back on numerous times in my life when I was in the position of your friends, when I couldn’t make sense of God or life or myself. The hardest battle I’ve ever fought is the one where I’m supposed to trust God despite circumstance (the dreaded faith thing!). But looking back, I see how God used these circumstances to reveal Himself and His nature to me. God also brought me to the place where I was able to be honest with Him and with myself, so that I could cross the bridge into trust.

    1. Hi Jude! Thanks so much for sharing what God has done. I knew you when you were in those hard places. So thankful you’ve reached a new level of trust. Love ya lots!

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