A Hard Old Testament Lesson...
Israel, in the midst of troubles and after the golden age of Solomon, must have felt as though God had abandoned her. It was quite the opposite. Israel’s troubles were a manifestation of God’s special providence, his special love for his chosen people. Like a fond and loving father, he was trying to wean them away from trust in kings or princes or in armies or the powers of this world. He was trying and trying to teach them that their faith must be in him alone. He was leading them, through every trial and in every age, to the realization that God alone is faithful in all tribulations, that he alone is constant in his love and must be clung to, even when it seems all else has been turned upside down.
The OT too, is a record of how often, in times of peace and prosperity, Israel took God for granted and settled down into some routine where the status quo was accepted as the be-all and end-all. They thought of the established order as their support and sustenance, and forgot their ultimate goal and destiny. So God reminded them, again and again, that he was their sole source of support, their ultimate hope. Their trust must be in him alone.
We too become dependent upon our routines in times of ease. We take things for granted and rely on ourselves and on our own resources. We settle into our worlds and look within for support. We come to equate being comfortable with a sense of well-being. Friends and possessions surround us, one day is followed by the next, good health and happiness for the most part are ours. We don’t have to desire much of the things of this world in order to have gained this sense of comfort and of well-being, to trust in them as our support…and to take God for granted.
It is the status quo we rely on, that carries us from day to day, and somehow we begin to lose sight of the fact that under all these things and behind all these things it is God who supports and sustains us. We go along, taking for granted that tomorrow will be very much like today, comfortable in the world we have created for ourselves, secure in the established order we have learned to live with, however imperfect it may be, and give little thought to God at all.
So God must contrive to break through those routines of ours and remind us once again, like Israel, that we are ultimately dependent only upon him, that he has made us and destined us for life with him through all eternity, that the things of this world and the world itself are not lasting, and that we must look to him and turn to him in everything. God must allow our world to be turned upside down to bring us to our senses and restore our sense of values, and to turn our thoughts once more to him.
“Do not be anxious about anything,” said Jesus, “but seek first the kingdom of God.”
(Adapted from He Leadeth Me, Fr. Walter Ciszek)