SCRIPTURE (Numbers 21:4-9) (JN 8:21-30)
From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road,
to bypass the land of Edom.
But with their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
"Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!"
In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
"We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents away from us."
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
"Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and whoever looks at it after being bitten will live."
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.
The people are tired. Our patience has worn thin. Many of us may be tired of our commitment to our Lenten promises. Some of us may be tired of Lent, in general.... when will it be Easter already? For those of us in educational settings, many of us may be becoming desperate for Spring/Easter break. Our patience has most certainly worn thin. And this is to say nothing of our response to our broken society. We are DEFINITELY tired and lack patience with our societal dysfunction, shouting matches, and heartache.
We are just like the children of Israel in the desert. What seemed like a hopeful journey at the beginning has become a very long and arduous path. We are parched. We are desperate for life and for the promised land. How long, oh Lord, how long? Please just give us a taste of the milk and honey so we know we are still on the right path. No more of this wretched food, Lord.
Even in today's Gospel, there is a sense of desperation, of confusion... the people don't understand who Jesus is. Jesus speaks in a veiled manner about where he is going and who he is. It's as though Jesus doesn't want to be clear about the path ahead. They too, collectively, seem to be very much "in it;" in the thick of the journey.
But there is at least one thing that both Moses and Jesus were both perfectly clear about: even though the people in the present may be tired and confused, God is there. God is "in it" too.
Moses prayed for the people and God responded in mercy. Jesus said, despite the confusion and anger of those around him, "The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone."
The reality is that we may not experience sudden relief. The children of Israel still wandered in the desert and Jesus had yet to travel his long, difficult path while carrying a cross. And so it is with us. We still have some weeks before Easter. Our world is not yet showing signs of robust health. We have a long way to go.
And yet, God has not left us alone. Let us take comfort in this truth as we journey on, together.
These Lenten reflections are written by friends of 12plus1, Inc. Discovery House a service-based gap year experience for participants ages 18-20 will begin August 2018. Please share this information with an individuals who may want to participate or support this new ministry.
- What is making me most tired today? How can I release some of this burden to the Lord?
- Are there things I can do to offer support to a friend, colleague, or loved one today?
Take six minutes to be rejuvenated with some tent revival singing of, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord."
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following
your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Laura is the campus minister at Messmer High School. She is blessed to accompany young people as they grow in their lives of faith, service, and leadership.