Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Saturday, February 20 Read Psalm 78

In the daytime he led them with a cloud, and all night long with a fiery light. He split rocks open in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep. He made streams come out of the rock, and caused waters to flow down like rivers. Yet they sinned still more against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. Psalm 78:14-17

Desert Travel

I must admit that I have long been pretty critical of the Israelites who complained bitterly to God a mere three days after God led them out of captivity. Because of Godís action, they escaped on dry ground through the Red Sea, then were led by a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. God gave them water that came from a rock and food that fell from the sky! God was with them the entire time, loving them and caring for them, yet they still turned away from God.

Then several years ago, when I rode on a bus through the Sinai desert in the dark of night, I became a bit more forgiving and understanding of the Israelitesí lack of faith. That desert was a remote, desolate place. I saw no growing plants, no water, no people and no lights except the bus headlights illuminating the seemingly endless ribbon of road. It was a scary place, and perhaps that alone was enough to make the Israelites doubt Godís presence and power.

The world we live in can be a pretty scary place as well Ė even here in Wichita. We are often afraid when we hear of shootings and robberies, terrorism and war, floods and earthquakes, disease and death, cruelty and hate.

In the midst of all that fear, we, like the Israelites, can fail to see Godís action in the world, lose faith and turn away from God. We forget about hope Ė not something wished for, but something promised. We have the assurance of hope that just as God was with the Israelites, guiding and providing for them in their darkness, God is with us as we experience our own darkness and fear.

God will never leave us or forsake us. God will accompany us through all the deserts of our lives. The season of Lent calls us to repent, turn around and return to the Lord our God, remembering Godís love for us, recognizing Godís activity in the world, so we continue to live in hope Ė the promise of Godís presence with us in this life and the next.

Cheryl Hoops
Retired pastor

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