Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Today’s first reading follows the Israelites into the desert after their great exodus from Egypt. It’s a story we’re all familiar with- Moses comes before Pharaoh and demands that the Israelite people, held captive for over four hundred years, be released into freedom. Pharaoh lets them go after some crazy events unfold and God’s people escape into the desert beyond the Red Sea. It’s a great story of God’s providence and love for his people, who even though they were sinners, were deserving of being set free from their captivity. So- the people get to the desert and things are great, right?
The passage from the book of Numbers today shows us an inside view of how this was no vacation for the Israelites. Even in the midst of God’s great action of freeing his people from slavery, we see Israel acting like grumpy children, complaining that their new circumstance isn’t as good as their lives in Egypt. How ungrateful! But this reading isn’t just meant to make Israel seem like a bunch of brats- it’s meant to show us a reality that runs through all of our own lives.
In the midst of God’s love for us and his ever-active care and provision, we often act out like the Israelites did while in the desert. Maybe we’ve experienced some sort of conversion where we leave our old life behind to follow the Lord, but in the midst of giving up old habits, we find that living with the Lord isn’t as “fun” or “exciting”. Maybe we’re realizing that God is calling us to a deeper and more disciplined life and when it gets hard we lash out at him and blame him for making life harder on us. We are often just as ungrateful for the profound and essential mercy that God pours out on us as Israel was.
The story doesn’t stop with Israel’s grumblings, though. God shows once again the amazing love he has for his people by allowing them to turn their hearts back to him. It wasn’t out of wickedness that God set the serpents into the midst of the people for them to die- he provided a chance for them to repent, turn back to him, and be saved once more! Today God is calling you in the same way. In the midst of the difficulties that can come in following him, he is reminding you that his love remains- all we have to do is turn back to him and leave our grumbling behind.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
How do you grumble against God's provision for your life?
How is God calling you to turn back to him today?
How is God providing for you?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Thank you for loving me."
"Jesus, I trust in you."
"You are enough."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Take time today to ask the Lord to reveal the ways you most often complain and grumble about your life. Spend time writing down all of the ways you are grateful for God's love and provision for your life.
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"Today's prayer was prepared by Adam Smyth, a high school youth minister at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Ellicott City, MD.
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