My Dear Shepherds,
Most of us have been wounded in our work. What hurts worst is when we’re struck by our own people, our own family, a brother or sister. We’ve been in one another’s homes and eaten together. We know each other’s kids. We’ve prayed, sang, and laughed together. Of course, as Proverbs 26:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.” But untrustworthy wounds often leave deep scars. After a while, most pastors have them.
Pastor Moses knew the feeling. In fact, if the incessant mistrust and grumbling of his Israelite kinsmen wasn’t painful enough, he was betrayed by his own brother and sister only thirteen months after leading God’s people out of Egypt.
Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.) (Num. 12:1-3)
Evidently, while Moses knew full well what was going on, he refused to do anything about it. Not because he was weak or passive but because he was supremely humble. Being the defensive champion that I am I wonder, How is that possible? This man had a fiery temper and a fierce sense of right and wrong, so how could he find it in himself to take this kind of insubordination from his own siblings and not say a word!
This particular Hebrew word for “humble” portrays the heart of the godly in the face of affliction. “Moses’ description of himself as such a man is no proud boast, but merely a report of his position: absolute dependence on God. Of all men he was most properly related to God.” (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament). Moses was like Jesus in this: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Pet. 2:23).
Maybe after 80 difficult years meekness came more readily to Moses than to most of us. I can’t speak for you but when I’ve been hurt, I nurse my wounds, prepare speeches, and confer with the attorney on call in my mind. Then God whispers, “What do you think you’re doing?”
This kind of “humble” requires prayer, maybe on your knees. Reckon whatever wounds you have received as sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Resolve by God’s grace to forego even a whisper of retaliation. Ask God to heal the toxic grudge. Bow before the glory of the Lord, “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love.” Receive his grace and resolve to give it.
In Moses’ story, the Lord called the three siblings to meet with him “at once” where he dressed down Miriam and Aaron, while Moses listened. Then God walked out on them. “When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous … [her] flesh half eaten away.” She’d been turned inside out, you might say, her diseased inner life on full display.
But then, Moses did what he always seemed to do. “So Moses cried out to the Lord, ‘Please, God, heal her!’” Which, after giving her seven days to think about it, God did.
Dear shepherds, when we’ve been wounded, our people will not see us pray ourselves low nor will they know when we ask God to heal those who hurt us. But the devil will find no foothold and our church will grow in love.
Be ye glad!