Third Sunday in Lent:“Proclamation of Profitable Wellsprings”
Exodus 17: 1-7
Romans 5: 1-8
John 4: 5-14
We live in times that is unusual, but in every time, the time is in God's hands. My times, our times are in God’s hands, and this is our foundation.
Our Collect for today says, “Almighty God, You know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves…” If we have no power in ourselves, the good news is that God will never leave us by ourselves. We are not by ourselves. We are not on our own. God is with us. This is what the world should learn in this time of ongoing process that we are in. “…keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls…” In this time of Lent, we need to focus on an intensive care for our souls. “…That we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thought which may assault and hurt the soul.”
From the Scriptures, I would like to point to four points. First point: People love to grumble and complain against God, and test God. Everybody loves to complain and to criticize. As the Israelites journeyed in the wilderness, and there was no water for the people to drink, they quarreled with Moses and said, “Is the Lord among us or not?” This is an evil thought. What did God just do for them? He just performed miracles in the land of Egypt to deliver them from slavery! God opened the Red Sea to allow them to escape the Egyptian army. When the Egyptians armies tried to chase them, God drowned them, and yet they said, “Is the Lord with us right now?”
It is not different to what people think today. People are still complaining instead of trusting God. “God, people are getting sick. People are dying. Is God still around?” During this unusual situation, there are two things that I can point out that people can do now that there is a one month of quarantine. One, since family members have been caught up with the busyness of their own concerns and since they will be at home for a month, why don’t they introduce themselves to each other? Second, instead of looking into the websites to search for answers, why don’t people go back to reading the Word of God? The Word of God doesn’t change even if things are changing. People act, too, as if God promised that they will not die. We will one day and this should not scare us. Scriptures says, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Fear not! Now is the time to spend time with the Word of God, and hear from God and fight the evil thoughts.
Second point that I would like to point out in Scriptures: God is not happy being argued with. Reading from Psalm 95, “For forty years I loathed that generation, and said they are a people who err in their heart, and they do not know My ways. Therefore I swore in My anger, truly they shall not enter into My rest.”
In the gospel, when Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for water, she argued with Jesus about Him being a Jew who is asking water from her, she being a Samaritan. She also said that Jesus had nothing with him to draw water from the well, and when Jesus told her to call her husband, she argued again with Jesus to say that she did not have a husband. The Samaritan woman even argued about Jesus being the Messiah. Jesus responded but not to a point of going down to the level of the Samaritan woman. Jesus was not into defending Himself.
When we come to argue with God and to question Him with all the tribulations that we are facing now, be reminded by what Romans 5 says, “We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint.” We cannot have hope if we don’t go through the whole process that starts with tribulation that result in perseverance, then proven character, and then hope. Tribulation brings us to hope.
Where is our hope through the corona virus? Irony of ironies, the corona virus is our hope because it brings tribulation, perseverance, and proven character that lead us to hope.
The third point is: God loves us anyway. This is despite our complaining, our grumbling, and our arguing with Him. When the Israelites asked, “Is God with us or not,” in the midst of their complaining, God allowed water to come out from the rock of Horeb so that the people may drink from it. The Samaritan woman, in the midst of her arguing with Jesus, Jesus brought to her the Living Water. It was told that she had five husbands and as the woman left the well and went into the city, she told her story to men. This was her character and yet, Jesus loved her and told her the truth.
In Romans 5:6-8, it says, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” While we were yet having these sinful thoughts, complaining against God, debating against Him if He is still around, God loves us – always had and always will. God is love and He made us His objects of love.
God loves individuals. Jesus dealt with Nicodemus as an individual. Jesus sought out the Samaritan woman as an individual. Jesus brought sight a blind man as an individual. Jesus met the family – Mary, Martha, and Lazarus – but Jesus interacted with them with love as individuals. Jesus had an individual word for Mary, for Martha, and a ministry to Lazarus. Despite of our evil thoughts and for the others things in which we fail in, God still loves us. While we are in the middle of our failure, God still loves us, and this should get rid of all our fear. If God is for us, who can be against us?
Our fourth point is: things will get better. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We don’t have to have this argument mentality questioning with God. We have peace with God. Christ has brought us where we have peace with God. Because there is peace, there is ceasefire. We don’t have to be stuck in a situation where we question God. We don’t have to be branded as a person that grumbles and argues with God. We, by faith, have peace with God. Verse 2, “Through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand.” God’s grace in us, His strength and power in us, can overcome our tendency to complain. We have peace with God because His grace is in us that give us the strength to overcome the temptation of these evil thoughts. We have grace to overcome to walk as people with faith, as people that believe that we will overcome our human weakness.
Despite our human nature to complain against God, He still loves us and He has forgiven us. God has given us His grace, through faith, to go beyond and to rise above our situations and declare that, “God is control,” that whatever befalls us, God is in-charge.
God is with us! We take precautions because we are not presumptuous and proud in our situation, but we are faithful and hopeful because God is in-charge with all that is happening in the world and that is happening in our lives.