(Today’s guest writer is Dr. John A. (Jack) Beck, our favorite Bible geographer and professor/guide for our Israel trips. An adjunct faculty member of Jerusalem University College, Jack lives with his wife Marmy in Wisconsin. You can find out more about Jack, including his many publications, on his website, johnabeckauthor.com.)
“How much longer!? How much longer before things get back to normal? I awakened with that question drumming on the door of a new day. I tossed back and forth in bed frustrated by the strictures imposed by another weekend of pandemic lock down. Then it dawned on me. I was asking the wrong question.
When Israel spent decades in the wilderness, their days were filled with the challenge of living in a natural world setting that threatened to kill them on a daily basis. Dehydration, starvation, terrain, and predators took their turns disrupting the normal rhythms of life. They were constantly living on defense and it was exhausting. They too asked. How much longer?
In reply, Moses did not give them a time frame but a new set of questions to ask. The Lord was using their time in this ecosystem to humble them, to test their faith, and to teach them he was sufficient to meet their needs (Deut 8:2-3). It would take as long as it would take to accomplish those goals.
That gives me a new set of questions to ask as I navigate this season of wilderness. Is this pandemic defeating the hubris that gives me a false sense of control over my life? Am I allowing this pandemic to reveal the level of trust I have in the Lord? Am I learning to see God is capable of meeting all my needs even when the shelves are empty?
These are better questions, in part, because they address matters over which I have some control. I do not control how long the virus will disrupt society. And no one can tell me just how long the pandemic will last. But I do control the changes that are occurring within me. If I ask questions about such things, I stand to come out a better person at the end of this period of waiting in the wilderness–no matter how long the wait may be.