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“Meh” in the Life of Faith

A Lent Reflection for Tuesday, March 12 by Rev. Jessie Lowry

Selected passage for reflection: Numbers 20:1-13


Number 20:1-13 NIV

1 In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.

2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. 3 They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! 4 Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? 5 Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

6 Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord said to Moses, 8 “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

9 So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. 10 He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.

12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

13 These were the waters of Meribah, where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and where he was proved holy among them. 


It is hard to believe that this week will mark four years since our country was locked down for a global pandemic. Many of us in March of 2020 had never heard of Covid-19, but it turned out to change our lives and our world forever. What began as deep fear and panic gave way to restlessness, grumbling, agitation, helplessness and questions of why. With the world seeming to be back in full swing four years later, it can be easy to just want to move on and forget those hard times. But maybe that doesn’t serve us. 

The Israelites had a prolonged period of such restlessness and questions. Instead of four years, they had more than forty. In the story told today in Numbers, we remember our ancestors not as giants of patient faith, but instead as people who falter and fumble and grumble and grieve. Their deepest dreams seemed far away. The journey to the Promised Land was not straightforward. And don’t our stories work that way too? Maybe we too have witnessed miracles and moments of wonder (or not), but still we find ourselves tired and weary and (for lack of a better word) just “MEH”. 

Has anyone heard that word in recent years to describe emotions that are not as dramatic as total lockdown or Egyptian slavery, but are more uncertain and tentative? Haven’t we all come out of the pandemic experience, many of us, struggling to move beyond the “meh”? To live into our true freedom? Maybe the only way to move forward fully is to fully grieve. Maybe we need to stop hardening our hearts against all the ways these difficult experiences have changed us. There is a Japanese writer named Haruki Murakami who says so well: “once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what the storm’s all about”. May it be so…


Moses disobeyed God in this passage in a very subtle way. In his anxiety, he reverted back to what he had done before. Exodus 17 chronicles how Moses had struck the rock once before right after the people fled Egypt. And now, so much closer to the Promised Land, when faced with so much uncertainty, God commanded him to speak to the rock, saying that it WILL pour out water. But Moses was scared: so he went back to what he knew. This Lent, can we resist the urge to fall back into old patterns? Can we sit with the uncertainty, fall before God and pause before trying to fix everything ourselves? Our own Promised Lands are incomplete without the journey we take to get there; allowing the path to unfold. 


Lord God, we are so tempted to grasp for the familiar strategies; the well-known coping mechanisms, as we continue to wrestle with our seasons of “MEH”. We pray that you would slow us down enough to listen to you and trust you enough to wait before we act; to see if you might lead us in a different direction. Thank you for all the ways you have already transformed us on the journey. 

About the Author 

Jessie Lowry is a solo Pastor at Christ Our Anchor Presbyterian Church in Annapolis, MD, where she lives with her husband and two young children. Prior to this, she worked with formerly incarcerated women, as a hospital Chaplain in various settings, and as a Chaplain-in-Residence at Georgetown University. She is from PG County in Maryland, which led to a lifelong passion for antiracism work. She is also an identical twin who loves to read and meet new friends! 

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