S (scripture): Deuteronomy 34:10 Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. 11 He was unequaled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, 12 and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.
O (observation): Moses, the leader of the Israelites for more than 40 years, died at the age of 120. The last verses of Deuteronomy honor him as one of the most revered leaders in the history of God’s people. Yesterday I mentioned he was not allowed to actually cross into the land God had promised to the people because of perceived sins he committed as leader. I said I thought Moses got hosed – an opinion I stand by this morning. Yet, in another sense, it might have been the merciful thing for God to do. In the latter chapters of Deuteronomy God predicts the people would not remain faithful once they occupied the land they were given. The results would be terrible. The people would be punished unmercifully. It would be natural for Moses to be disappointed in not being allowed to enter the land toward which he led the Israelites for 40 years. Must have been a major let-down. But then, it also likely spared him a great deal of pain.
A (application): There are times when I experience disappointment too. Things don’t work out the way I’d like. And from that vantage point it can seem unfair. But there is also a chance that, to the degree God is involved in such things, my disappointment may be a gesture of mercy in ways I cannot see. The closing of a door may be avoidance of difficulty and misery in a job, a relationship, an investment, or any number of things. This morning I’m thinking of ways God has said “no” to me over the years, things I experienced as disappointment. Perhaps there’s another way to think about these things.
P (prayer): Lord it’s true that life is full of disappointments large and small. We want doors to remain open, but they close instead. Opportunities pass us by. Relationships sour and go away. The list is limitless. Give us grace today to trust that you hold us in the palm of your hands, that what we experience as disappointment may indeed be an act of mercy on your part. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.