When times get tough, we can be tempted to turn against God in anger instead of turning toward Him in prayer. We are quick to forget God’s actions in our past because of the difficulty of the present moment. This is exactly what happened in the desert as Moses and the people grew thirsty. They had just been saved by God and walked through the Red Sea, but as soon as their physical needs grew dire, they seemed to forget about God entirely. They complained against Moses, as if he were in charge. Their complain made no mention of God at all: “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?” How thirsty would you have to be to want to go back to slavery and possible execution? How could those who had recently experienced great miracles then be driven so easily to despair?
Later, after God provided them with water from the rock, the people would remember that day with great shame. It became the infamous day that they used as a reference for lack of faith. Psalm 95 immortalized in these words, from God’s point of view: “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, Where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works.” The Breviary, the Church’s book of daily prayers, uses this psalm to start the day each day. Even thousands of years later, we need to remember this lesson daily. God will provide! No earthly tragedy or worldly threat should ever shake us from our faith in God.
Have we done everything we can to protect our loved ones? Have we taken adequate measures to use our reason and resources as best we can? Then the rest is up to God! As it was in the day of Massah in the desert, we are in God’s hands. So even if a global pandemic should shake our society and decimate our population, we are still dependent upon God, no more or less than ever.
What the world needs now is our example of faith. Now is the time for us to bring joy and hope to those in danger of despair. We can call on the Lord, as the Israelites should have done, and join with our brothers and sisters in prayer. We have great Saints who have gone before us who faced plagues and disasters with courage and joy. St. Aloysius and St. Roch are particularly strong intercessors for us in this time, as both gave their lives in service to plague victims. We are called to storm heaven with our prayers. We have seen God’s works in the past and we know He is at work in our present time of need. So, let us harden not our hearts as at Meribah, but lift our hearts and voices in prayers of joyful hope to God, our rock and our savior.
Peace in Christ, Today’s Readings: Ex 17:3-7; Rom 5:1-2, 5-8