Prayer for the day
O God, you have taught me since I was young, and to this day I tell of your wonderful works.
Scripture for the day
“He had compassion on them.” In Matthew and Exodus, the sense is the same. God is a God of compassion, a God who sees and hears the affliction of people, whether simply hunger or brutal oppression, and acts.
It’s easy to understand why some people believe in God only as a distant by-stander. With the horror we witness in the world, with the suffering and pain and death, doesn’t it make sense that we serve a God who could only be one who stands far off, seeing but not intervening?
This stately, unmoved God sounds like a convenient solution to the problem of evil, and to many other difficulties. But the scriptures we read today show us a very different God than the watch-maker or the by-stander. The God in the scriptures of Exodus and Matthew is a God of intervention, a God of listening, a God of compassion. It is not that this God is a puppet-master, ensuring that, regardless of our own wills or desires, whatever He wants to happen gets done. No, this God is the God who responds. This is the God who hears the crying of his people, the rumbling of their bellies and the hunger in their hearts for freedom, and who reacts.
He does not react in predictable ways. He doesn’t even act in what we would consider wise ways. He acts and reacts in his own ways, and those ways prove not their effectiveness, but God’s desire, to use broken people to reach and save other broken people.
In the story of the feeding of the five thousand, God uses improbable means to feed an army of people. He uses a few loaves of bread and a few fish. He uses a miracle. He uses nothing that we expect. And the people are fed.
In the story of the exodus, he uses a burning bush to speak with a stuttering murderer.
God’s ways are mysterious. Sometimes they seem to lack sense. But in the grand story of God’s interaction with humanity, we see an unfolding pattern of regular care, regular concern, and regular action. And this regular action is undertaken with a purpose and design that we may never fully understand, but that can be appreciated as the plan of God to use his creatures and his creation to work toward the ultimate salvation of all things.
And that is awfully good news.