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  • Writer's pictureThe Hermit of Antipolo

Putting Things Right (Thought for the Day Part 109)

Today’s readings:

Numbers 11:4-15

Psalm 81:12-17

Matthew 14:13-21

Things are so dire in the world, and some Christians might think, why does God not just put everything right? With just a word He can do this. He miraculously multiplied the loaves and fish and was able to feed the five thousand (Mt 14:17-21). But when He does not, some then turn away from Him, seeing Him as One who does not really care about people.

Why does God not just act unilaterally to resolve all the ills in the world?

First, because then people would look to Him as the miracle worker who gives them fulfillment, rather than the Lord who needs to be obeyed. Then people will always find something to complain about. Such was the case with the Israelites. God provided them manna from heaven. But they got tired of it and complained, “But now we are famished; we have nothing to look forward to but this manna.” (Nm 11:6). People will never be satisfied. They will always be looking to what they do not have rather than what they are already being blessed with. The antidote is obedience to God.

Second, because God wants us to help ourselves (with His overall help of course). In particular, God looks to His sheep being shepherded by human shepherds He appoints. This was the case with Moses. But Moses was quite frustrated with the attitude of the Israelites, such that “he was grieved” (Nm 11:10). He complained to God (Nm 11:11); he was ready to give up (Nm 11:14); he even wanted already to die (Nm 11:15). But such challenges are what actually teach us endurance, perseverance, embrace of the cross, full trust in God.

Third, because God wants His people to totally embrace Him, not for what He can provide them, but for who He is. God does provide for His people, but this is not appreciated. The more He unilaterally provides, the easier it might be for people to ignore or forget Him, taking all the goodness for granted. “So I thrust them away to the hardness of their heart; ‘Let them walk in their own machinations.’” (Ps 81:13). And if people walk in their own machinations, they will inevitably err, and their suffering would increase. But if there is great suffering, then hopefully people will, in their desperation, turn to the only One who can give relief. “O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways.” (Ps 81:14).

And if God’s people learn their lessons, then God would certainly act to do right by them. “But Israel I will feed with the finest wheat. I will satisfy them with honey from the rock.” (Ps 81:17).

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