The Israelites complained to Moses, “Isn’t this the very thing we told you about while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’ because it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.’” – Exodus 14:12 (paraphrase)
“You would cut off your own nose just to spite your face.” This is an old saying that I didn’t really understand when I was young. I mean, it sounds kind of silly, right? Who would mutilate themselves in order to make a point? Actually, I hadn’t thought about it for many years. Just the other day, however, as I was thinking about the great changes that we as a society are undergoing, this saying came back to me. And I began to wonder how many people “would cut off their own nose” just to avoid change? How many people would “spite their own face” just to keep the status quo?
Well, that seemed to be the sentiment among the Israelites as the reality and the cost of liberation became apparent. So, they complained to their leader, Moses, about the condition of their freedom. In essence, they wondered out-loud if it wouldn’t have been easier to have stayed in Egypt? Moses challenged them later in this passage, however, when he said, “…overcome your fear and stand firm, and you will see the deliverance that God will accomplish for you today.” Moses was reminding the Israelites, that while deliverance from bondage could be a frightening in the moment, the reward for standing firm, the prize for their steadfastness, would be greater than they could possibly fathom.
Now, in these unsettling and unusual times we too may wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to keep the status quo. But here’s the thing. The Covid-19 virus and the Black Lives Matter Movement have forever changed our society. Change is here whether we like it or not. And that being the case, it seems to me that we have a few choices to consider. I mean, will we accept the new normal of this pandemic? Will we forego some of our former activities, follow the CDC guidelines, and save the lives of as many people as possible, or will we let the fear of change lead us to cut off our own noses? And moving forward, will we accept this emerging transformation in how our differing races relate to one another or will we “spite our own face” by resorting to old stereotypes or racial slurs?
My friends, in these uncertain times, as we ask ourselves these difficult questions, and as we push-down our fears, rest assured that God is with us on the journey. We have example after example from Scripture calling us to fearlessly choose the difficult path by faithfully pursuing justice, by offering kindness, and by seeking wholeness for all of God’s people. This is the more difficult way, but in the end, it is the better way. May we find our way through the wilderness of these times, together.
Shalom and Many Blessings, Pastor Phil