Readings for Tuesday March 23, 2010
First Reading: Numbers 21:4-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 102
Gospel: John 8:21-30
From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road, to bypass the land of Edom. But with their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. (Nm 21:4-6)
In today's first reading, we see the Israelites complaining about their current conditions, apparently the standards are just not up to par. They just aren't thinking that even though they are being asked to rough it a little bit, things could be worse. Since they are not thinking this, the Lord gives them a little taste of just how worse it can be, He sends some snakes to punish the people. I think that was the reality check that the people of Israel needed.
This sparks the question, how do we handle conflict and inconvenience in our life? Do we see it as a curse or a blessing? The Israelites did not realize what God's plan was in taking them into the dessert wilderness for all those years. He was teaching them to be trusting and dependent on Him. Many of them missed this point, and only wished for more. This reminds me of a lesson that I took away from sports. I remember during football, after some long practices we would end with running some sprints. It is no surprise that after several sprints we would start getting very tired. We kept thinking that we should be done, that we had run enough, but our coach would just make us run more. We just couldn't believe that he was making us run more, we would start gripping and complaining out loud. As you can guess, this didn't help matters, in fact it only hurt them. Instead of saying, "you know what, you boys are right, we have done enough, let's go inside", he said "line up, we're doing more!" My heart and my body screamed of injustice, thankfully my mouth stayed closed. What I didn't realize at the time was that my coach was not only making us physically tough, but he was also making us mentally tough. If we are so willing to give up after a practice, when things are hard, then we would just as likely to do the same in a game ... or even later in life. I am thankful for those lessons instilled in me.
We each have a choice in life, we can choose to see trials and challenges as curses or bad luck; or we can see them as opportunities for growth. God is not trying to bully us or get His kicks out of tormenting us, He is giving us a chance to grow and depend on Him through hardship. We can spend our time complaining, or we can spend our time praising.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have given to me and for all that you do. Lord help us to see things through your eyes, to see hardships as important lessons and important opportunities of growth and trust in you. Lord, may your light shine through us, and may we continue to be vessels for your glory. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.