“How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they deny to trust in Me, in spite of all things I did among them? How long will this wicked community be grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the people grumbling against Me. Tell them: As surely as I live, I will do to you just as I heard you say in My ears.”Numbers, 14:11
The same reality that makes the spiritual life so amazing to the faithful is the one that makes it dangerous to the unfaithful: it never stops. The reason for the resting of some is the same for the lack of resting of others.
There is no neutral zone for spiritual life. Or you believe in living by Grace, or you don’t.
With the lord, good things and bad things are all fruits of the Grace within the mysterious Providence unfolding before our eyes. Each day is like an adventure because life is blooming in possibilities. Even when things are apparently going in the wrong direction, our trust in the Love of God gives us rest, peace, and even joy among any tribulation.
Away from the Lord, good things are never enough and never granted, there is no true peace because there is no deep hope, just anxiety, and bad things hurt because of the lack of any reason, and there can be no true peace because there is no trust in the meaning of that suffering. The need for control and power enslaves the soul, and all that is the fruit of the distrust towards the Lord.
The thing is that although there is justice in this, God has no pleasure in our suffering.
If we were endlessly blessed distrusting Him, He would only empower the illusion of idolatry and make people go even far away from Him, serving evil spirits and transforming the current life into hell. Pride is this perverse thing that turns blessings into curses. Since it basically consists of lying, pride turns the spiritual life upside down. And that is the reason why, for the prideful, the blessing works like a curse, as the curse works like a blessing.
The obedient sheep are guided by the staff of the Shepherd.
But the twisted and disobedient must be corrected by the rod.
Complaining and whining: symptoms of distrust
Lack of Faith results in suffering and fear: both the present and the future look scary if we don’t have the trust in a loving Father to take care of us.
Our injustice concerns the life we had in the past because we were so much loved.
Of course, a person with no spiritual discernment can’t understand this, because without any Faith and Humility it is close to impossible to have real Gratitude, and that is the key to do justice to the story of our own lives with God.
So, the burden of distrust is somehow even greater to those who have walked in the path of a spiritual life with God. And this is the story behind this quote from the Book of Numbers: after years of indisputable blessings and prodigies, the people of God get to grumbling and complaining.
This is already a powerful sign that the spiritual life consists in the pure trust in Love, and not the experience of the consequences of Love as just receiving blessings, and much less in witnessing supernatural signs and miracles. All those external signs were useless to the people of God: they believed in the power of God, but not in His Love. In being blessed they witnessed the Power, but they missed the Love. You can guess why, then, Jesus Christ was rejected and put to death: it is the same story.
Spiritual life has nothing to do with the worship of a God that is Almighty by His Power and Wisdom but not by His Love. Because both the Power and the Wisdom serve the Will of God, and His Will is pure Love. Our spiritual job is to trust in the Love of God because that is the source of all things. He is the Almighty because only His perfect, pure, and holy Love can do justice to His Power and Wisdom. We don’t trust in God because He is overpowered and wise, but because He is Love and we need His Love to live.
Complaining and whining are symptoms of distrust in His Love because we can have some faith to believe in the Power and Wisdom of God, but what makes us really saved is the trust in His Love. The real spiritual life consists in the trust of the deepest nature of God, knowing Him as a loving Father, as we can learn and do through Jesus Christ, the Son of God Himself.
From the rod to the staff
We are treated as we deserve.
If we distrust His Love, we deserve the correction of the rod: to deal with the consequences of a life without the recognition of the blessings from God. And that is pure justice, because to the disobedient –the unfaithful full of pride– a bless is a curse and a curse is a blessing. God has no pleasure in giving us the life we deserve away from His blessings, but that is necessary for our correction. And it is the justice of making us deal with the consequences of our free choices.
Corrected, we have a chance to live in the peace and joy of the faithful, blessed by the guidance of the staff of God in this life.
This is the amazing power of our freedom: we can deserve better if we just decide to trust better. It is amazing but it can be scary too because it doesn’t matter how clear the reality is in spiritual terms, the truth can always be denied by that freedom of belief.
Beware of your surroundings. Pay attention. We are vulnerable to influences all the time. And I am not talking only about the culture in general terms –which is a culture of pride, distrust, victimization, hysteria, and complaint–, but also and more importantly about the behavior and testimony of the people that live around us. Even if we block the influences of the mainstream media and of social media, we can receive the same transmission of distrust and disobedience passed on through the people of our social circle.
And this is why moving on from the correction of the rod to the guidance of the staff is not a collective deed, but an individual decision. That, as all spiritual decisions, will inevitably separate us from the people that prefer the harshness of living without the trust in the Love of God.
Living by Grace separates the obedient sheep from the disobedient, and eventually will separate the sheep from the goats.