Posted: 11 Mar 2012 06:11 PM PDT
"The people came to Moses and said, 'We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.' So Moses prayed for the people" (Numbers 21:7).
In this passage, the Israelites speak out against God and Moses and they are punished for their complaints, at least at first. The Israelites witnessed many miracles on their journey, but their promised land seemed to be out of their reach and they exhibit little faith. Our "promised land" can feel far away as well. We hear heartbreaking stories on the news about families in our country that have lost their jobs, homes, and livelihoods. For many of us, these stories have hit closer to home—our own family and friends may be struggling as well.
Our faith may be tested like the Israelites' when dark clouds are all around us. What should we do in difficult times?
Moses prayed for the people—and the Lord provided a different remedy than the Israelites expected. "And the Lord said to Moses, 'Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.' So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live" (verses 8-9).
As a child, I always thought a serpent represented something scary or evil, but as I grew up, I realized a serpent can also represent life, rejuvenation, and healing, as in the rod of Asclepius used by many who practice medicine. In this passage, both extremes are represented; ultimately, God's love is revealed through healing for those who were bitten by the poisonous serpents.
As we journey through the 40 days of Lent, in what ways does God reveal his love for us in difficult times?
Four years ago this Easter Sunday, right around sunrise, my beloved grandmother passed away after a prolonged illness. All throughout Lent that year, she struggled to breathe from years of asthma complications. Through this very dark and difficult time for my family, it was fitting for a woman of deep faith to rest in peace on Easter Sunday.
My most precious gift from her, a heavily thumbed and well-used large print Bible, revealed other gems from her Christ-centered life. I learned only after her passing that one of her favorite passages was 1 John 4:9, "God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him."
Dear Lord, help me to pray and recognize your love for me, especially in life's difficult times. While the world around me may feel like the darkness of a Good Friday, may I always help to share the love you gave to us on that Easter Sunday with the world. Amen.
Marcie Doll, deacon