Daily Advent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Sunday, December 6, Morning
By Rev. Ann Robins
It Has Been a Year Like No Other
Read Numbers 11:10-17
Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”
The Lord said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the tent of meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.
We are a tired people. I wonder if that is how the people following Moses out of slavery felt? The people verbally attacked Moses and they wanted to stone him. How did he respond? In verse 15 of Numbers Moses says to God, “I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough. Get me out of here.” We can relate. God told Moses to gather the leaders, and God would meet them and speak, and they would take some of the load of the people. Moses took his feelings (hurt, anger, frustration, why me?, and many other feelings) to God and not to the people. He could honestly bear his soul with all the emotions he felt. These emotions were not too big for God to hear, and the hurt and anger did not change God’s love for Moses. Sadly, not many of our relationships can endure such pain and honesty.
Our emotions have run high in this season of the unknown and uncertain. We have needed Immanuel (God with us) like no other time. Jesus led by walking daily through life’s challenges with others, and his love was not dependent on how others treated him. Are we looking in the mirror to see how we treat others? I tend to be angry with the person presenting the problem, when I need to address the problem and not the person. Others usually believe they are as right as I think I am. If I can listen, hear their concern and fears, believe the best of them and calm myself to respond, will we not have more of an opportunity to move forward to solve the problems? We will certainly not solve the problems by destroying our relationships and hurting one another.
Immanuel, help me to see that the problems around me are not as serious as the problems within me. Please give me the courage to be honest with myself. Thank you for being bigger than all that I face. I ask for your help to love others as you love me. Help me to work with others, looking for their best and hoping they see my best. Thank you for creating the church to be your loving presence in this world. We ask that you empower your church to lead from a place of loving all your children as you love us. In your powerful presence I ask. Amen.
Rev. Ann Robins is the Tennessee Valley District Superintendent of the Holston Annual Conference.