Look and Live


2020.

Look at it. Don’t despise it or cancel it. Sit with this number representing a year of beginnings, endings, challenges, some victories, and many things in between. It’s been tough and often inconvenient. But we have an opportunity; we can choose gratitude. Decide to climb over the fence that seems to keep us isolated from seeing the blessings in disguise.

On the other side of whatever you’re facing this year is something that you can celebrate. How do I know? Because you’re breathing. And in the year of the-virus-that-shall-not-be-spoken, we are grateful for breath despite our many reasons to complain.

In Numbers 21, I marvel at how the Israelites moved from waging war to winning the war and then complaining about their provision. In the first nine verses of that chapter, we’re on a roller coaster of transition. First, one of the Canaanite kings interrupted the Israelites’ journey by attacking them and taking prisoners.

In response, the children of Israel went to God with a request: Allow us to have victory over this group of people, and we will annihilate their cities. I don’t know about you, but to me, that sounds like a big ask. They were unable to defend the initial attack, yet they wanted to counterattack. And, with the Lord’s help, they promised to destroy the offending cities.

God heard their request, and the Israelites obliterated their opponent in Arad. But it wasn’t enough to provoke extended gratitude. Almost immediately, they grew impatient and began to complain about God’s provision. Question: If God answered your unlikeliest prayer, how long would it be before you complained again?

As this year commenced, we were excited about the prospects the new decade held. Soon, however, things didn’t look as bright as we’d hoped. The tunnel seems too long to see the light at the end. Yet, God has answered some BIG prayers. Despite what we see on the news and in our own backyard, miracles still reinforce His faithfulness. Have we been grateful for them?

God’s response to Israel’s complaints was a plague of poisonous serpents. As a good Father, when they acknowledged their sin to Moses, He immediately relented the punishment. He had Moses create a bronze pole with a serpent and instructed that those bitten could look at the pole and LIVE.

So, why not merely heal them and remove the serpents?

Probably the same reason that we can’t eat cake and cookies all day every day. Some of us consider our health, weight, activity level, and adjust our behavior to manage and preserve our lives. But sometimes that looming medical report, which may be a result of prior habits, is why we put down the fork.

If He removed the consequences, would the Israelites consider His faithfulness before complaining again? ‘Egypt would’ve been better than this,’ seems to be a harsh indictment. Without the threat of punishment, would they look at what He’d already done and move forward in light of their relationship with Him?

That’s good advice to help us push through 2020 and thrive: LOOK and LIVE. It’s more than a popular song for gospel choirs of the early ’90s. It’s a way of life. Whether we’re delivered quickly or have to fight through the journey, if we develop proper focus, we can live at a level we never imagined!

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