Can God get your attention? Can God keep your attention and trust in the midst of on-coming tragedy? How are we being called to help others to stand firm?
The readings for today raise these questions for our reflection. Repeatedly God reaches out with signs and wonders of His love. The Psalm recounts the great rescue of the Israelites. The Exodus story for today occurs after God sends plagues and rescues the Hebrew first-born. God got the attention of the Israelites and the Pharaoh. The signs captured their attention enough that the Pharaoh lets the Israelites go and the Israelites follow Moses. However, Pharaoh and the Israelites have second thoughts. Other concerns began to capture their attention. What will we do without slaves? The Egyptians are coming to kill us! The second guessing kicks in. God feeds the flames of second guessing on Pharaoh’s part, while strengthening Moses to stand firm to the second guessing on the Israelites part.
Brackley* notes that Ignatius warns against second thoughts that occur after a clear discernment. If the discernment was clear and came with consolation, he urges us to stand firm against second thoughts. Aren’t there sufficient signs and wonders to trust that God will provide a way? Will we demand another sign? Will giving in to second guessing divert our attention, weaken our faith, or sabotage our mission? When we are leaders or mentors, these questions not only apply to our own lives, but to others’ as well.
Jesus and Moses both stand up to second guessing pressure from others. Clearly, giving in to the Israelites’ second-guessing would have sabotaged the Exodus mission. If Moses had decided to take matters into his own hands, the odds clearly were not in his favor. Jesus refuses to prove himself with signs in front of the Pharisees and scribes, despite the fact that he quite easily could have done so. Both stay true to what they hear God calling them to do and put the consequences in God’s hands. Both challenge others to recognize the power of God that has already been displayed. Neither takes the second-guessing of followers (or potential followers) personally and then feels compelled to personally prove their worth by proving God’s worth.
The Psalms, as they so often do, remind us of great works of God.
They remind us to recall and celebrate the great works that have
already been performed in our own lives. Reminding ourselves of
this past faithfulness and sharing these stories with others strengthens
our ability to stand firm and to encourage others to stand firm.
These stories also help us to keep our attention firmly on God –
who so deserves our entire mind, heart, soul and being.
*Brackley, Dean. 2004. The Call to Discernment in Troubled Times. New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company.
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