“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” Exod. 17:1.
The liberation of the Hebrews from the shackles of domination and oppression in Egypt, and the journey towards the land God promised Abraham and his descendants, happened in stages, and at every stage God displayed awesome power and grace. God’s power was displayed in the infliction of ten plagues upon the Egyptians, the crossing of the Sea of Reeds and the routing of the Egyptians, in the transformation of the bitter water at Marah, and now at “Rephidim”, an oasis in the Negev, where the well was dry.
The absence of water made the Hebrews upset, and they quarrelled with Moses (v.2) and were prepared to stone him (v.4). Moses asked why they were willing to “put the Lord to the test” (v.2c). Frankly, at this stage, they should not have been trying God’s power to see if God could give then water in a dry and deserted place. They were tempting God to work a miracle for them. It is important to note that God told Moses to take and use the same staff that was instrumental in some of the other stages.
Stage here means a period or a phase. We all go through various phases on our life’s journey and development. Some phases are more difficult and come with greater responsibilities than others. In the difficulties and challenges of a stage, we must draw on God’s promises and previous manifestation of divine love, grace faithfulness and power. This outcome provides further evidence and assurance of who God is and how God reacts to, and provides for, his people in times of incredible anxiety, distress and danger.
You or someone you know and care for might be going through a stage right now that fills you with joy. You are seeing the hand of God at work, and you are eternally grateful to God for grace. Or, maybe, you or someone you know and care for might be going through a stage right now that has left you devastated and confused. Maybe you are alone, or you are separated from someone you love, and are pleading to God for divine intervention. Maybe, like millions, you are panicking as the COVID-19 sweeps across the world and fear grips us.
Whatever is the situation, we are expected to trust God. In fact, we must trust God at every stage of our lives. The expectation is that the longer we serve God and the more stages we pass through, the greater our confidence and trust in God will be. The visitation of the pandemic, COVID-19, is a stage in our lives. Unfortunately, so far, thousands have died, tens of thousands are infected, and the lives of millions have been disrupted. However, we must never lose faith and trust in God to do the impossible through human instruments. Whatever your stage, this, too, shall pass. It’s a stage.
Thought: Our journey proceeds by stages.
Prayer Focus: Let us pray for those seeking a cure or vaccine for COVID-19, and for those infected and affected.
Rev’d Everald L. Galbraith J.P.