Thursday, February 14, 2013

oh no!

Today's reading: Exodus 17; John 5

But the people grumbled against Moses and said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst? Ex 17:3
But he answered them, "It was the man who healed me, that man said to me, 'Take up your bed and walk.'" John 5:11

The book of Exodus is the “Oh, no!” book.

Time after time the Israelites were hit by really bad situations, situations that in any case but their own would have been disastrous.

In Exodus 17 we read of all 2 million of them in the middle of the wilderness. They were really thirsty  and there was no water anywhere near. In this desert area, the only thing the people could see were rocks.

Oh no! What could they do? The Bible tells us the people quarreled with Moses and demanded, “Give us water to drink.” They were getting ready to stone him.

Moses said, “Why do you quarrel with me, and why do you test God?”

God instructed Moses to pass on before the people and strike the rock which He designated and when he did so, enough water poured out to care of all the needs of consternated Israelites. Moses named the place Massah (testing) and Miribah (quarrelling) because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

The Israelites should have known better. It made no sense at that time for them to be so distraught, for at that very time God was providing them breakfast every morning (with manna) and supper every evening (with Quail). It was only a week or so after God had walked them through the middle of a sea on dry ground while drowning the pursuing army. And immediately before that, they had witnessed the amazing 10 plagues that God had inflicted on their Egyptian slave masters.

Oh no!” is not how any of us who are Believers should ever react, to anything. Like the Israelites, we are promised special attention. As the apostle Paul tells us, “If God be for us, who can be against us? If He did not spare His own Son but gave Himself up for us, how can He fail to lavish upon us every good thing?” from Rom 8:32 & 33.

We do know that. I know that. Again and again the Lord has dealt with me better than I could have ever imagined. We had a son who was wayward. Time and time again something would happen to him and I would cry out, “Oh no! not again.” But today my son is doing very well and every time I think about this son, I think, “The Lord is too good to us.”

I just lost my job. Frantically I tried to figure out what to do next to bring in enough money for my family. Overabundantly the Lord has supplied. Then yesterday morning it appeared we had misplaced a $200 Target gift card. My heart sunk. I thought, “Oh no! Who’s to blame for this fiasco?”

In the Gospel of John we read of an invalid who lay, “with a multitude of others” at the pool of Bethesda. He was there because this was a magic pool. Whenever the pool’s water stirred, the first one in was healed. This man had been an invalid for 38 years so who knows how many times this poor man exclaimed, “Oh no!” for he missed it again! Jesus came by and asked him if he wanted to be healed. He explained to Jesus his sad story, and told Him how very unfair it was that someone always got in ahead of him. I think Jesus may have finally had to interrupt the man’s story to say to him, “Rise, take up your bed, and walk.” Which he did and he was healed. But it was on the Sabbath. And just his luck, (he always had the worst of luck) some of the religious Jews happened to come by. “What are you doing?” they asked him. “Don’t you know it is unlawful to carry your bed on the Sabbath.”

 Oh no! Now what? What could he say? He explained to them that it wasn’t his fault. It was this guy who healed him. “He told me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’”

It is true, we Believers do live in two quite different worlds. Though our real home, our real citizenship is in heaven, as long as we are mortals on this earth, bad things do happen. (Be kind. Don’t go explaining to someone who is presently going through Job-like trials that, “All things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.”) The Psalmist tells us again and again, there are times when we just need to wait for the Lord.

Paul writes, “What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Tribulation? Persecution? Famine? Nakedness?” None of those things sound that good to me. But I do know something about the love of Christ. And I do know His love is something we can depend upon to make things good—really good.
So, for me, for you, for all of us who are Believers; let’s be done with our “Oh no’s!”

Question: What is it in our Christian and American culture that causes us to exclaim, "Oh no!"?    
Do you have something in your life that once caused you great anxiety but that you now are able to trust the Lord with the outcome?

1 comment:

  1. While overwhelming needs can lead one to question the provisions of God, overwhelming provisions may lead one to question the need for God. When the lame walk or water spurts Supernaturally from a rock we may be inclined to give thanks to the God we were only moments ago whining to. But when we work hard for 40 hours a week then come home and eat well it does not always naturally follow to praise God for His marvelous provisions. Although it was inappropriate for Israel to test God, it was healthy for Israel to live in a position of dependence toward God and His provisions. God seems to keep His people in a place where they may eat enough to be thankful and hunger enough to return to the Source of provision.

    Both of these passages are couched in the story of the Sabbath -the day where men would need to stop working and rest in the provisions of the Lord. It is interesting to consider that there were people sitting pool-side at the waters of Bethesda on the Sabbath day, as though God might stir the waters. Apparently God and His angel did not know that it was unlawful to heal on the Sabbath. Or maybe the lesson of the Sabbath is for man to learn the need for dependence in the provision of God. Perhaps the Sabbath is designed to be a day of healing.