“IF ONLY … “ versus GRATITUDE
This year has indeed been a challenging one, socially and spiritually. Thankfully, I have not heard of my church friends complaining strongly about these confronting circumstances, though some have expressed disappointment and anxiety, and the dynamics within the congregation have changed. Interestingly, several have determined that family issues must come before church matters, and that indicates a change in priorities that is healthy, given that many regulars do not have family members accompany them to worship services.
Yet complaints are rarely heard. Of course there is longing for the future, even if the new normal will not be like the old normal. Adjustments will necessarily be required hard work.
Even so, I doubt that Christians will be like the disgruntled Israelites of long ago.
They groaned and moaned about their terrible conditions in Egypt. They suffered so much constant hardship and harsh despiteful treatment they wanted to leave ‘no matter what’. Yet what a lot of grumblings and strong protests followed. Nothing was as it ought to be. They were constantly dispirited so that, IF ONLY, must have been a constant theme of their conversations with each other. In Exodus 16 with the relief of “the rain of bread from heaven” God determined that they needed to cultivate gratitude. He determined that after 6 days there would be no more fresh provision of “bread” in order that the people could concentrate on the generosity of God’s provisions.
The “seventh day of rest” not only allows for physical recuperation but more significantly it enables spiritual refreshment and re-affirmation to the work of God’s kingdom determined partly by the depth of our gratitude for God’s goodness and profound love.
Our contemplation of God’s kindness results in the opportunity to respond to the complaints and railings of others to be bold enough to express our awareness of God’s abounding care to all.