Is the Lord among us or not?
– Exodus 17:7
The complaining, kvetching people of God in the wilderness at Massah and Meribah is part of what Hebrew scripture scholars call the ‘murmuring tradition,’ where there is not yet outright rebellion, but a low-grade grumbling is persistent. The people were annoyed because of the privations in the wilderness, and some wanted to return to Egypt, where at least they had the familiarity of routine. If I were honest, I empathize with their plight, especially in these current times. It is easy to lapse into the “why can’t we get back to normal” state of mind, yet, when I step back and take the balcony view, I soon realize the amazing things that God has brought about over this last year, despite the pandemic. I think about the reports of how members of many congregations unfamiliar with zoom and other virtual media stepped out on faith and risked learning something new. I hear the testimony and excitement from those who have rediscovered love for bible study or writing letters to siblings in Christ as a ministry of encouragement. I am reminded of how it became possible to slow down and live in the moment – to be mindful of God’s very breath as I took time to listen to my heartbeat.
It takes a certain kind of courage to keep facing forward when the wind blows forcefully in the face. Growing up, I knew when our family met tough times because I would hear my grandmother sing “How I Got Over” by Mahalia Jackson. Her advice whenever we faced challenges that caused a member of our family to want to reverse course was to (a) remember to remember – the bad things, not just the good things. In doing so, she believed we cooperated with the Spirit in cultivating a sense of gratitude; (b) Life has an unsteady motion, but generally, the direction is forward – so find something each day for which to give thanks. Give thanks in all things. In other words, adopt an attitude of Thanksliving. Generosity of spirit is a disposition that needs tending; much like soil, it has to be tilled to bear good fruit, and finally, (c) God is to be trusted. God has not brought us this far to merely abandon or leave us to wallow in the wilderness of despair and disappointment. Look to the source of our strength and the strength of our life. If you are like me, you are yearning for the coming of new and renewed promises of God. One path toward embracing the Hope of Christ in these tough times is by embracing the beauty of God’s Hesed, or lovingkindness and to be grateful.
Great is Thy Faithfulness, O God, my father.
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have need of, Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.
Thomas Chisholm (1866-1960)
If you would like to view past editions of The Capital Connection,
follow this link: https://capitaldistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/