Often, when life isn’t working out the way we imagined or hoped, our impulse is to pray for God to change things.
We think, “if only” things were different, “if only” people were better, “if only” our needs were met, “if only” the pain went away, “if only” the choices were simple, “if only” temptation disappeared, “if only, if only…”
Sometimes God does transform situations, but more often, God changes us… if only we ask.next >
Moses heard the people crying throughout their clans, each at his tent’s entrance. The Lord was outraged, and Moses was upset. Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you treated your servant so badly? And why haven’t I found favor in your eyes, for you have placed the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give birth to them, that you would say to me, ‘Carry them at the breast, as a nurse carries an unweaned child,’ to the fertile land that you promised their ancestors? Where am I to get meat for all these people? They are crying before me and saying, ‘Give us meat, so we can eat.’"
Numbers 11:10-13next >
From the time Moses accepted God’s call to lead the Israelites to freedom, Moses became responsible not only to obey God but also responsible for the people of God. Moses had to confront the Pharaoh, perform signs of God’s power, proclaim the coming of deadly plagues. Moses had to communicate God’s plan to the people, direct them in how to prepare for the escape, and guide them as they finally went out of Egypt.
Now the people — 600,000 of them, according to Numbers 11 — were hungry, bored, and angrily complaining to the one person they held responsible: Moses, of course.
And Moses himself felt responsible! He had done everything he’d been asked, followed all God’s instructions, and yet there in the wilderness it all seemed to be falling apart. He was not able to meet the desires (or demands) of the people he had worked so hard to save.
He may have felt that the people were turning on him, but he knew he could turn to God.
Nikki Finkelstein-Blairnext >
God, you can handle my most honest, most frustrated moments. When I feel overwhelmed by responsibilities, or when I feel like the world is turning its anger on me, you listen to me. You reassure me. And you provide for my needs — as you have always done. Thank you. Amen.next >
God doesn’t only change us; God changes the world through us. When our attitudes are transformed, God can transform the people and situations we encounter.
If only we choose wisely when options are hard,
if only we respond kindly when people are cruel,
if only we act boldly when someone is hurt...
May God use us to answer the “if only” prayers of our world.
Rev. Nicole Finkelstein-Blair is a 2001 graduate of Central Baptist Seminary and an ordained Baptist minister. As a military family for the past 15 years, she and her husband Scott and their two boys have found “church homes” across the country and across denominations. For fun, she writes, reads, knits, and helps the school librarian make bulletin boards. :)
Carter Harrell: Making Space