Photo by  Sarah Noltner  on  Unsplash

Photo by Sarah Noltner on Unsplash

Odd Stories Abound, But We Can Still Learn

by Eric Elkin

…pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.
— Numbers 21:7

We have a friend who shares the most fantastic stories from his youth. Some stories are too bizarre to believe. But every time, they turn out to be true. One of our favorite stories was about our friend’s junior high swim class.

He started the story by saying, “We never wore swimsuits when we swam in school.” What? He said the school couldn’t afford swimsuits and they didn’t want fibers from cotton shorts clogging the filter system. So everyone, girls and boys, swam naked in swim class. Of course, they separated the class by gender so it wouldn’t be inappropriate.

I learned to swim at the YMCA, in a pool with the same filtration system. We never swam naked. Peggy and I called his brother to verify the story. When his brother answered the phone, I asked, “What was the color of your junior high swimsuits?” He responded, “We never wore swimsuits. We swam naked.” Even though the story was confirmed as true, I still found myself asking, why?

Today’s reading is one of those bizarre stories in the Bible too fantastic to believe. I wish there were someone to call to ask if it really happened that way. However, I think if it were confirmed, I still would ask, why? The people complain about walking through the wilderness for forty years. God, in response, sends out poisonous snakes to bite and kill them. Then has Moses fashions a bronze snake on a stick to heal those struck ill. Why?

Why is a question that never seems to get answered when seeking to understand God. It is hard for people to escape years of religious leaders teaching God curses people. We know afflictions are not put upon people due to behavior. Still, I wonder why people are born genetically predisposed to addiction. If God is the source of all life, why are some born with debilitating mental health issues? Can we trust such a God?

My faith is not built upon a belief God will remove all the snakes of affliction. God can, and will, bring healing in the midst of affliction. Even the illnesses I cannot understand. Prayer will not cure diseases, but it will help both those who suffer find healing. For those who serve the sick, it helps them to be more compassionate, loving, patient, and hopeful. So, today, pray for the afflicted that they might find health.

Click to read: Numbers 21: 4-9

Reflection Questions:

  • When have you heard a story too wild to be true, only to find out it was real?
  • What are the, “Why?” questions you have about God?
  • When have you found answers to those questions?
  • How important is it to know everything about how God works?

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