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Friday, July 12, 2013
Today’s Reading | Exodus 17:1–7
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (NRSV)
One of the toughest things about being a Christian is having faith when God seems to be absent. Let’s say you’re going through a transition in your life, one in which frustration and sadness just seem to go on and on. Or maybe life has become too routine and you feel stuck where you are. At times like these, sometimes our prayers seem to do no good. Then maybe out of frustration or anger, we stop praying, because God seems to be absent, so what difference does it make anyway?
Well, that’s what today’s passage is about. In “the wilderness,” the Israelites wander around and wonder where God has gone and why God doesn’t give them what they need—in this case, water. As the Israelites wander around, they’re looking for an oasis (where they would expect to find water), but then, contrary to everything they expect, God draws water out of a rock in the middle of the desert.
This is the message to us: “the wilderness” is the places in life where God seems absent but is not. Often it seems to us like God is absent, but the story reminds us that God is present, even in the most desolate of places, and often in ways we would never expect. One more thing: the Israelites are in the wilderness for forty years! So this passage also tells us to be patient. It’s a big challenge, isn’t it, this life of faith? But fear not, because God is here, even when God seems absent. And sometimes water comes from a rock, in the middle of the wilderness.
God, help me to know that you are present, even in the times in my life when I feel like I am in the wilderness. And grant me patience. Amen.
Written by Adam H. Fronczek, Associate Pastor for Adult Education and Worship
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