Sometimes I feel like the middle of Lent is the worst. It’s like the Wednesday of a really, really long week – you’ve used up your energy from a restful weekend, and the next one feels so very far away. The “this is going to be the best Lent ever! I’m going to give up so many things, and do all these extra things, and get so much out of it!” has faded into a tired mood where you find yourself glaring with jealousy at the chocolate cake aisle at the grocery store, and wondering why March 6th you thought that waking up 30 minutes early every day to pray would be a great idea. Easter feels far away – almost like it’s never going to get here.
The first reading this Sunday comes from Exodus 3 – the beginning of the story of Moses. Before this, the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians for a long, long time. Imagine the hopelessness and defeat they must have felt! God calls Moses through the burning bush, and explains how he is going to rescue his people. Moses is unsure of his abilities to do what God asks, but God affirms him, and reminds him that he is the same God who fulfilled every promise he made to the Hebrews who came before him.
“I am the God of your fathers, “ he continued, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob… I have witnessed the affliction of my people in Egypt and have heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers, so I know well what they are suffering. Therefore I have come down to rescue them from the hands of the Egyptians and lead them out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:6-8).
We all have situations, maybe in your past or maybe right now, where we’ve been so stuck in the middle of a situation that it’s been hard to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. God saw you then, and he sees you now. And he reminds us that even when we feel stuck, he is making all things work for the good. God reminded Moses of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for a reason – because they are each recipients of a fulfilled promise from God to care and provide for them, even after they have not been faithful. God promised Abraham, an old man with an infertile wife, descendants that would number the stars, and Abraham laughs so hard in disbelief that he falls on his face (Gen. 17:17). But, when Sarah gives birth to a son, they name him Isaac, which translates to “laughter.”
Whatever you have weighing you down today, follow in the steps of Moses. Remove the sandals from your feet, shake the dust off, and plant your feet in “holy ground” (Ex. 3:5). If you’re feeling dead in your faith life, like the fig tree in today’s Gospel (Luke 13:1-9), give it another chance. If you need a little extra hope, remember this – that the God who found a way to provide for Abraham and Moses is the same one listening to your prayers today.