By Rev. Darcy Crain
There’s a story in Exodus about hoarding. The Israelites are starving, they’re on the road to some vaguely promised land. They’re anxious, they have no idea when they will arrive if they will arrive, or how long the journey will be. God feeds them with manna (bread-ish) from heaven and tells them, don’t store it up. I’ll give you more for tomorrow, but don’t store it up. Not all of the Israelites listened, and in the morning, their hoarded manna was crawling with maggots.
You’re thinking, really? You’re going to make me feel bad about stockpiling groceries and toilet paper right now? No. Not my intention at all. I think that if you have the ability to do so, it is a responsible measure to take care of your family and others around you. This story from Exodus is deeper than toilet paper purchases. It talks about the human nature of depravity and what it creates in us. It creates something ugly, something we want to turn away from.
Like many of us, I’ve been watching the news. More than I should, truthfully. I’ve noticed that in this place of fear and depravity, not enough tests, not enough answers, not enough resources, we are pointing our fingers and having dialogues of anger. We are quick to blame, quicker to judge, and neither action is producing more tests or more peace.
Is everything just and perfect in how tests are distributed? No. Could we have been more prepared? Obviously. But for me, focusing only on who is to blame and who we can shame showcases the worst of what we can offer; as humans, as Americans. I think the Israelites taught us, look when you are facing depravity and anxiety, sometimes you don’t put the best foot forward.
God didn’t find their hoarded bread and say, well fine, don’t listen to me you’re on your own. God kept walking with them. God kept providing. God kept inviting them to a life of shalom despite the circumstances of the desert.
In resting in the promise that God does not abandon us in the desert, in the pandemic, in the unknown, maybe we can focus less on blaming and more on sharing what we have. We can focus more on the time we have been given or mandated. We could focus on how so many are sharing what they have so that hourly waged employees can make rent or children expecting lunches at school are fed.
We may be at a place of depravity when it comes to the necessary resources and answers, but our soul doesn’t have to be. I’m making it my goal to do less finger-pointing and more clasped hands in prayer. Anyone want to join me?