God redeems; God pulls us from the pits of despair, destruction, and death. We may find ourselves in dark places either through our own sin or the sins of others or simply because life has taken a difficult or tragic turn. This passage reminds us that our God takes pleasure in pulling us up and out of that darkness. These verses speak of God’s nature. God takes no joy in our despair or in seeing us suffer because of our sinful action or inaction. We also learn that God hears us when we cry out in our troubled moments and in our pain.
God remains faithful; through God’s faithfulness we learn of God’s power. Many of us imagine God as an all-powerful deity who could help us if desired but has, for whatever reason, chosen to withhold help. Yet we witness God’s power in our experiences of divine faithfulness. We recall God’s response to our petitions and God’s attempts to draw us from our places of misery and hopelessness. God’s very presence sustains us, giving us a sense of God’s holy hands that will never release us.
We can find ourselves in pits so deep and dark that we cannot even imagine our escape; at those times we can remember what God has done for us in the past. Sometimes others remind us of what God has done for them or we remind others. Those who have experienced God’s redemption must speak of it often. We join the throng who tell of God’s “deeds with songs of joy.”
Today, great God, remind me of your redeeming power found in your faithfulness to me and others in moments of despair and trouble. Amen.
Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble by our words and actions. It’s okay to admit it. It happens to all of us. The Israelites experienced this when their constant grumbling provoked God’s wrath in Numbers 21. Yet even in this story, God provides the means of salvation. The psalmist echoes the refrain that when we put ourselves in bad positions, we may cry out to the Lord for deliverance. We read in Ephesians that all of us were living in disobedience to God, but God has done all the work of reconciliation by grace given through Christ Jesus. John ties all this together, gesturing to the story in Numbers 21 to teach us that Christ is the means of restoration and salvation for all who believe in him.
• Read Numbers 21:4-9. When has your complaining distorted your sense of reality? How do you maintain a sense of God’s presence?
• Read Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22. Consider implementing a practice of rising from sleep to give God thanks and to call to mind the many ways God works in your life.
• Read Ephesians 2:1-10. Does your sense of God’s salvation engender a sense of grace within you and a desire to do good? Why or why not?
• Read John 3:14-21. Do you consider yourself a creature of light or darkness? Why?
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