I recently had the privilege of listening to a series of lessons on the Israelites: From the Exodus to the Promised Land. The teachings highlighted how God delivered his chosen people from slavery in Egypt, led them through the wilderness to the Promised Land, and then His dealings with them as they wandered in the wilderness another 40 years for their lack of faith. (I remember reading these stories when I was a kid and marveling that these Children of Israel never seemed to learn from their mistakes and how they kept repeating them; and how they complained!) The teacher of the series commented on their ingratitude and posed the thought, “I wonder how that made God feel?” Then he challenged us to consider how WE make God feel in our lives, and how we can be just as ungrateful as the Israelites were in the desert.
Sid has wanted to be a “baby doctor” since she was four. She often wore a set of scrubs. She donned a surgical mask. There was an oxygen mask that she had fashioned out of another toy for a completely different purpose. She was like MacGyver in her bedroom turning her toys into medical equipment. She performed many operations in her bedroom. I am happy to report that all of her patients survived. She never lost a baby on the table. Following an operation, I often had goldfish crackers and chocolate milk as a snack for her.
But sometimes I get to meet these kids in their tough places and make an impact that lasts forever. Recently, I was working with a kid who was stuck in a low spot. She mentioned that she got her Bible out the other night to read to help her find faith. We started talking about our favorite verses. From quoting John 3:16 to Proverbs 3:5-6, to quizzing me on the shortest verse in the Bible (“Jesus wept.” -John 11:3), this 10 year old knew her stuff. She told me her favorite character in the Bible was Solomon. When I asked her why, she said that ‘Solomon prayed and prayed, and could have asked God for anything, but he chose wisdom. I told her, I thought for a 10 year old who got dealt a pretty cruddy card, she sure had a good handle on wisdom.
When I was brand new in my faith, I met an older woman named Margaret. Margaret’s face always seemed to be lit up with the love of God. The light of the resurrection, new life, and hope came glowing through her when she entered a room.
In my youthful naiveté, I assumed that since Margaret was such a joyful person, she must surely have a wonderful and easy life. Imagine my surprise when I learned that she was married to a confirmed alcoholic, a difficult man. I began to look more closely at her face and listen more closely to her words and I could see small signs of her suffering from time to time. I heard it in her prayers for her husband. I saw it in her compassion and activism on behalf of others who suffered. She wasn’t hiding her suffering.
So I started thinking about what God would say to all of this. My knee jerk was to think of the passages of Nehemiah on social justice, because societal discrimination is at the forefront of this intersectionality conversation. But then I quickly realized what a stunted vision I had taken, to look only at Nehemiah for the counsel of God’s Word on social justice. Isn’t the Bible full of intersectionality? And furthermore, isn’t it full of God’s favor for those who experience discrimination?
Today has been one of those days from the start. After a couple of snoozes on my bedside alarm clock, I got up to turn off my phone alarm over on the dresser (does anyone else have to put their alarm across the room?). Standing at the foot of the bed, I considered my options. My hair was too dirty to go one more day without washing; that would have been another 30 minutes of sleep. I could skip my morning workout, but I had skipped yesterday. I literally prayed for God to help me just stay out of bed. And so it went…