Perhaps this has been said before, but an important lesson learned through Celebrate Recovery was, “hurt people hurt people.” When people are hurting, they lash out. Sometimes the pain is stress. Often it is thousands of little things (and sometimes only a few) that pile up all at once. Our individual emotional and spiritual history is full of small wounds. Most of the time, we function well despite them. Other times, we fall completely apart.
God relays back to the Israelites all their woe and anguish. God explains how much of, really, is the accumulation of delayed consequences over the years. It is not that God is uncompassionate. It is that God is trying to retrain them to pursue God and not the world.
We can safely assume that many Israelites said with their hearts and/or their mouths, “God, if you really loved us…” They judged God by the consequences of their actions. We are often no different, whether we blame God or others.
God acknowledges and identifies their pain. Many are lashing out at God because of their pain. Many, just like today, lash out at God for they cannot see clearly through their pain. God doesn’t leave it at that. God promises restoration.
What should catch our attention in the promises is, “You will be my people…” The Israelites were declared God’s people in Exodus, yet here is a future tense. The Israelites were no longer God’s people. It seems obvious, but for the Israelites, it wasn’t obvious that they were no longer God’s people.
The other implication here is that the blessing can be lost. For those of us in the Wesleyan-Arminian tradition, this isn’t a shock, but we often choose to forget it. The Israelites had lost it. This should not be taken to an antisemitic extreme (“Christians” have done too much of that). It should be viewed as a warning.
It is not that they didn’t regain the blessing, but one can look at the history that followed, and see that the blessing never returned to the way it had been. The rise and fall of Israel is a lesson for every believer.
Jesus’ words are the guidelines to follow. If you have the light (Jesus), believe in the light. This is the full-hearted belief and trust in God. This is not a “statement of belief.” It is a life of belief.
The CEB concludes with “that you might become people whose lives are determined by the light.” Other translations say something more familiar, “that you may become children of light.” Might is not coincidental. Might indicates that…you can lose it, or that you can walk away from it.
Your trust and relationship with God may be such that you are not able to understand why anyone would “lose” or “walk away” from Jesus. The Israelites wandered away from God. Judas Iscariot (who was with him for nearly 3 years) betrayed Jesus. It can happen.
- Do you know anyone who “walked in the light” and then stopped? Do you know the pain of their story and/or why?
- How do you deal with the pain of people who know Jesus? How do you deal with the pain of people who don’t know Jesus?
Jesus, help us to walk in the light and to call others to your light, too. Amen.