“From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (NRSV)
Our routines are being interrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Food and paper supplies have flown off the grocery store shelves leaving them bare. Work schedules and worship schedules have been dramatically altered. All sporting events canceled. The new term “social distancing” has found its way into our conversations and vernacular, but even more importantly, its practice keeps us out of physical connection with each other. The very foundations of our lives are roiling under our feet like an earthquake. That may be a more appropriate metaphor than first thought. We are experiencing, in many ways, a social earthquake.
I suppose, like the Israelites in the reading above, we may think we have a legitimate quarrel with God. Caution is advised before going down that pathway, however. The Coronavirus is not God’s doing. It’s not God’s punishment for unfaithfulness or a twisted way of getting our attention. It’s a virus born from a unique combination of conditions in an isolated part of planet earth. Too many people living in and passing through too small of a space is what made it a global threat. It may the planet’s way of responding to the pressures it is under, but it is not born of God. That’s an act of “passing the buck” of the highest order.
In this unsettling time, we are called to do what we have always been called to do, love God, love neighbor, pray for healing, be agents of compassion and kindness as those moments come, be wise in our daily routines, be the cool heads and “adults” in the room, and live in the knowledge that God’s healing, restoring waters are still flowing into our lives and our world. Jesus, the living water, has come and quenched our thirst. As his followers, we bear the cups of living water and invite the world to drink. Love and its wise use, conquers all.
Be a blessing to someone today!