Thankful in the Wilderness – Reflection for 26 November 2017
The first seven verses of our Psalm today make up the Venite, the traditional first canticle of Morning Prayer. This canticle reminds us of the majesty of God and our proper response in worship. The words, “Oh, that today you would harken to His voice!” introduce the Psalms and lessons of Morning Prayer.
However, it is the last four verses that captured my attention this week. These verses provide a warning based on Israel’s history when God had brought them forth from Egypt and they grumbled and doubted. They did not believe that the God who defeated Pharaoh and parted the Red Sea, the God whose presence was visible with them night and day could lead them through the wilderness. They grumbled and complained to Moses.
Like Israel, my temporary discomforts and disappointments can very easily draw me into ungrateful grumbling. I can forget the tremendous blessing, presence, and power of God. In the distractions and busyness of daily life, I can let my heart harden. I can miss the love and grace of God. I can create my own wilderness where joy and peace are far away, where there is no rest.
It is easy for me to be thankful when things are going well. Or, perhaps I notice things going well when I am thankful. It is when things seem to be falling apart that I need the discipline of thanksgiving. A time when I stop everything else and remember the blessing and presence of God. A time when I let God soften my heart and open my eyes to His presence. A time to harken to His voice and enter into rest. A time like Morning Prayer.