You’ve got to be kidding! We’re often amazed to read the
ongoing saga of faith and doubt that Exodus chronicles in
the story of the Israelites and their quest to enter the Promised
Land. Today’s scripture follows the thirsty Israelites, ten plagues
and one harrowing escape through water later! Moses must have
wondered what it would take to ensure the people’s faith in the
living God who had delivered them from their Egyptian oppressors
and then cared for them in the desert wilderness. To us it
appears that God, with Moses as divine instrument, performs
one miracle after another. This situation actually reflects a crisis
in leadership—a lack of trust in Moses and in God. How dare the
Israelites grumble, question, and make demands?
If we honestly reflect on our own situations, we realize that
much of our frustration with the Israelites stems from our private,
possibly sheepish, admissions about our own questions
and demands of God. We, like the Israelites, have repeatedly
experienced God’s undeserved blessings throughout our lives.
I acknowledge many such blessings that have emerged in my
life: timing of challenges and resolutions synced; a way opened
in the midst of circumstances that at the time appeared to have
My own wilderness experiences and God’s providential
care have resulted in an undeniable pattern of goodness in my
life. Yet, I sometimes allow an amnesia of grace to affect my testimony
adversely. Pain, disillusionment, and fear exist. Struggles
and hardships can seem more real than joy. But through it
all, our faithful, loving, and powerful God cares and provides
Dear God, bless me with a memory and a conviction of your presence and deliverance in my life that is stronger than the memories of my anxieties. I can tell the story today because your power is real in my life. Amen.
All the readings af rm God’s benevolent care of those who place their well-being in God’s hands. While imperishable, God’s love can be frustrated by human pride and faithlessness. Water is an important symbol of God’s sustaining grace. In Exodus 17 the Israelites’ dependence on water becomes a statement about their dependence on God. The manner in which they obtain their water stands as commentary on human pride and arrogance. The psalm recounts this episode as a means of warning the people against the kind of obstinacy that impedes grace. John 4 focuses on the full actualization of God’s love in Jesus Christ through the “living water.” Paul speaks of God’s love being “poured into our hearts,” a grace that comes in the death and life of Jesus Christ.
• Read Exodus 17:1-7. When have you complained to God about a situation, only to discover God had already begun to forge a way through?
• Read Psalm 95. How does weekly worship allow you to hear God’s voice? How do you testify to God’s goodness?
• Read Romans 5:1-11. Reflect on a time when your suffering produced endurance and ultimately character.
• Read John 4:5-42. How do the words of Paul to Timothy about a worker “who correctly handles the word of truth” serve as a bridge between the “truth hurts” and the “truth will set you free”?
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