The Hebrew word for "Egypt" in Exodus is Mitzrayim, meaning narrow straights. The same place known to the ancient world as verdant, majestic, a center of culture and progress, this place was remembered by Israel as a place of suffocating limitations, a place of oppression.
Egypt had been a place of great promise for the Israelites, when Joseph rose to power long ago. And it served them well as a home for generations, and became a place of growth and fruitfulness. But in time, it became Mitzrayim, narrow and constricting.
How often is this pattern seen in our lives? The very land of promise, the fledgling relationship, the acceptance to that prestigious school, that perfect home: at first, it felt like freedom, like promise. It felt like a joy and calling so substantial that you could unpack your bags and live forever in it, burn the ships, make a home in that new opportunity, that new life. And then that verdant delta, that source of new life, starts ever so slightly closing in on you. With every new disagreement, with every new impossible assignment, with every new spike in property taxes and every new unexpected repair, the broad acreage of your joy becomes your Mitzrayim, narrower and narrower with each added demand, and what gave you hope and happy thoughts now steals your sleep and takes up far too much square footage in your daily thoughts.