Clergy View: Whatever our challenges will be, God will provide

Steven J. Rye

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the biblical story of the Exodus.

Starting in the 7th chapter, we read of a series of plagues God inflicts on the Egyptian people. The final plague is the death of the firstborn in every household. It is a gruesome story, to be sure. The result is that Pharaoh relents and relinquishes his hold on the Israelites.

This section of the bible intrigues me because I wonder what will come after our plague? I wonder if this ancient biblical story has some lessons to teach us about our days after the plague of COVID-19.

When reading the part of the bible that comes after the plague, several things stick out. The first is that very quickly, the people of God want to go back to their days of bondage. God freed them from a difficult life. But it was a lifestyle they knew well. Ahead of them was the unknown. They didn't like the new. Remarkably, they wished to return to the familiarity of their task-masters. This makes me wonder if the days after COVID will have us yearning for the good old days, whenever those were.

The second thing that sticks out was that God provided for them in a barren and lifeless land. God did not abandon them. They discovered water present when they were thirsty and food when they were hungry. When we look back on these times and in the days ahead, I'm confident that we also will identify how God has provided for us during these "COVID days" and beyond. Our situation may appear bleak, but God's love and God's provision does not fail.


Another thing to consider was how they were given instructions on new ways to worship, new ways of being a community together. God provided these instructions with the intent that they would guide the people when they entered into a new land.

As I talk with other pastors, it is clear that my congregation and the entire Christian community are experiencing new ways to worship, new ways to be a community. This instructional time will serve us well as we enter into a new land. A land that now we call "virtual" and yet the word doesn't capture the actual reality of our lives in the decades ahead. Online worship and devotionals and other creative ways to gather are here to stay. They involve real people connecting in real ways, just not traditional ways.

There is a lot more that can be drawn from this biblical account than I can share here. I encourage you, dear reader, to read and reflect on it. It is a very rich account. It's not surprising that hundreds of years later, Jesus would pattern his earthly ministry on the life Israel experienced after the plague.

Indeed the whole of the spiritual life can be summed up by the story of what comes after the plague. It contains a release from bondage through the water crossing of baptism, the receiving of a new law: to love God and love your human neighbor. And often, in our lives, it feels as if we are wandering in the wilderness, and we look forward to our future entry into the land God has promised to prepare for us.

Exodus very much has something to say to us in these days when we contemplate our lives after the plague. May we draw wisdom from this ancient story to meet the days ahead.

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