Rev. Meagan Manas, Director of Internal Relationships, Massachusetts Council of Churches
A meditation on Exodus 17:-7.
One of my favorite parts about this story is that the people complain, Moses complains back, and God helps them. God is not mad they are acting like 2-year olds, God does not make everyone take a time out or go cool off. God just says, hey, come with me over here, I’ll find some water for you. Help was always available, waiting just beneath the surface, and God was more than willing to show Moses where. They name the place “Massah and Meribah,” in Hebrew, which means “test and quarrel” because, it says, the people tested God.
Isn’t that interesting? We have this tendency to think that when bad things happen to us it’s because God is testing us. I don’t think that’s true, not least because in this story, when the people are afraid, when they get hangry and start whining and fighting, Moses asks God for help, and God helps them. God is not testing how long they can go without water or if they can learn to get along. Their fear and anxiety are a test of God’s character, and God shows up for them.
This passage ends with a question: “Is the Lord among us or not?” It’s the question that has been circling around this whole story. Why did you bring us here, how will we survive, what are we going to need that we don’t have, what are we going to do, how are we going to move forward when we don’t know what will happen next? Is the Lord among us or not? By bringing forth water from a rock, God shows that God is indeed with the people, has been all along, and will continue to be forever. There are many reasons to be afraid and anxious. But God is still with us.
Today, what have you seen or experienced that reminded you that God is with us?