Our Testiness, God’s Test
Lord, having Your love and grace in my life reminds me just how rich I am! I ask for nothing more.
Read Exodus 17:1-16
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
Use Psalm 95 as an opportunity for praise and reflection. What challenges to our faith are there for us today?
The two tests are related. The hostile Amalekites were in control of the region of Rephidim, and denied the Israelites access to sources of water. The Israelites test Moses’ patience and God’s faithfulness by their complaint. The Hebrew words for trial and quarrel are “Massah” and “Meribah,” so the place becomes a permanent reminder of Israel’s bad attitude, lack of faith, mistrust of its leader, and doubt in God’s power and presence. How often do we test God’s patience by relying on our own strength and understanding, doubting his work in our lives and in the world, and living as if he was not there!
The Massah-Meribah incident has a deeper meaning. God tests his children, by leading them through such trials. Suffering in Scripture is sometimes punishment for sin. But it also is used to teach God’s people discipline, faith, endurance and a new perspective. There may be no explanation for suffering, but it is an experience that shapes us, makes us purer, more able to help others, and points us to redemption through Christ. Only in the light of his resurrection does the meaning of suffering become clear.
Does this mean we should accept all hardship without question? Far from it! When we see injustice and oppression, or natural disasters, our hearts should be moved by God’s compassion. We should be urgent in our response and, where necessary, challenge unjust structures of power. But our attitude should be to bring it directly to God rather than complain against God. Bitterness, anger and cynicism are the weapons of the evil one to distract us from the love, knowledge and service of the one who is faithful, even when we are not.
List the attitudes you feel when you or other people suffer. Are they proper? What response would you give to someone who blames God when things go wrong?
Father, I know that seething anger, rage and hatred can destroy me. Deliver me from those even when times are bad.
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