“Winter of our Discontent”
“Winter of our discontent” takes on literal meaning for us in the weather-badgered Northeast this year. Maybe we can connect with the children of Israel better because of it….
I gaze out my window at snow-weighted branches and continued shades-of-gray view, and wonder how many people around me are waking to white and gray—again!—and groaning. Then I reflect on how Israel’s wilderness experience was like this—only way worse—and wonder how quickly I would have joined the clamor against the whole expedition, longing for greener times. One long winter can’t compare with forty years of bleak desert!
Remembering Sweet Surprises
I glance away to write these thoughts, then look up again—to the sweet surprise of a crimson cardinal perched amid the grayness. Savoring this refreshment, I consider the fantastic high points the LORD gave His people out in that desert—and how quickly they forgot them.
At the brink of a new beginning, life can get bleak and wearying. If we only view the dull how-it-is-now without depth of thought or gratitude about how far we’ve come, or our journey’s highpoints, or the great possibilities ahead, our mood will remain gray indeed.
Endings and Moving On
New beginnings usually involve endings, too. It was a time of many endings for God’s people. Moses was gone. Miriam also had died—as well as all their parents, except Caleb and Joshua. The children of Israel wept thirty days for Moses in the plains of Moab. But then, says Deuteronomy 34:8, “the days of weeping and mourning ended.” And they moved on.
They could have stayed stuck on all the endings, and the miserable trekking and erring—they could have wimped out like their fathers before them at reports of giants and military might. But what lay ahead held the reward, and required sharpened focus and faith.
For this new beginning, God gave a new leader to focus on—who so-strikingly pre-figured Christ:
Joshua. J’shua…Y’shua. Where have we heard that name elsewhere? Yes, it’s the Old Testament equivalent to the English name-form of Jesus and speaks of salvation, deliverance (Strong’s Expanded Dictionary). Figure of a mighty conquering leader, ushering God’s people into the Place of Promise.
Other pictures soon emerged in the Joshua story. Like Rehab: helpless prostitute in a pagan city of destruction, putting all her faith in J’shua’s God (Josh 2). Like her means of representing it: a “line of scarlet” hung in a window–picture of Christ’s shed blood, means of deliverance from destruction. Like her inclusion as part of God’s people (picture of 1 Peter 2:9-10)—even to become part of Christ’s family line, as great-great-grandmother of King David, forebear of J’shua/Jesus, “the Son of David” (Mt 1:5-6).
What to remember here? That Jesus the Messiah (Christ) not only delivers from, but also to: In the times of grayness, after many endings, let us focus on the hope of a new beginning– and on the Christ Who delivers us to it.