Have you had a passage of Scripture that bothers you or that you just don’t understand? I have several of them. One is Exodus 9:12, “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses” (NIV).

Why is God hardening someone’s heart? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. God has said that his ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:9) so maybe we will never know. I understand that, as the book of Job shows, God doesn’t have to answer my questions because he is God, at times I wish he would.

With all of that in mind, I heard something recently that made me wonder. In a devotion being shared, someone said that “the same sun that melts the ice also hardens the clay.” The woman, Marie, who shared the devotion said she’s heard it multiple times and in multiple places. However, I hadn’t heard it before, or possibly just don’t remember hearing it.

This time, though, it struck me and the passage in Exodus came to mind. I have to admit that I don’t really remember much else of the devotion (sorry, Marie) because this phrase got so stuck in my head. What does it mean that the sun can both harden and melt?

What if God is hardening someone’s heart because of how they respond to him? What if our response is what causes the hardening of our hearts? Does God work in our lives and in one person’s it causes hardening while in another it causes softening or melting? It’s a captivating thought, for sure.

I have no theological answers. I don’t know whether or not how God works in our lives creates different outcomes based on the person’s response, but somehow it makes sense. In 1 Timothy 2:3-4 it says that God wants everyone to be saved. If God wants everyone to be saved, he will be working in everyone’s life so why would some be saved and others not?

It’s another hard question that I don’t have answers to, but it makes me wonder how I respond to God working in my life. Do I allow him to melt the ice that can form around my heart? While I am not sure what the answers are, I do know that I need to be open to hearing from God and allowing him to work in my life. Whether that’s reading the Bible and being challenged to change a behavior or whether it’s God challenging me to be obedient and step out in faith. Whatever it is I want to allow God to work. I want to avoid having my heart become as hard as the clay the sun beats down on.

I believe God can still work in anyone’s life. David had to be confronted by Nathan to realize the error of his ways (2 Samuel 12). David responded then and asked God to forgive him. If we don’t respond, God may still provide opportunities. However, it will be much easier on me if I respond to God early on. There will be less pain involved the earlier I respond. I hope that I always remember the lesson of the sun either melting or hardening and choose to respond so I can have the melting and softening of my heart. How do you respond to God when he asks you to do something?