This is, by far, the hardest part of the story for me so far. The young girl’s question rings repeatedly in my head:
How can a God of hesed love order the deaths of thousands?
The old man has no answer – perhaps there is no answer. Or maybe the answer is simple: God keeps trying, over and over again, to remind us of who we are and whose we are. They had forgotten the story of God’s great works. The people of the Old Testament had forgotten the goodness of God. Temptation surrounded them – and won. In an attempt to save them from temptation and broken lives, God attempts to eradicate the source of temptation. I, like the young girl, am left with a greater understanding, but not acceptance.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that here we are, thousands of years later, in the same predicament – we have forgotten the story. Temptation surrounds us and we so easily forget the goodness of God. We forget that God provides for us in a way that society can’t. Maybe we look behind us and remember “the good ole days” – but we forget the emptiness we felt. Or maybe we are in the midst of strife right now and we can’t remember the last time we felt blessed. We don’t sing of the greatness of God – we long for our enemies to be eradicated.
We have forgotten the story. We have forgotten who we are and whose we are. This isn’t just a story of a struggle from so long ago – it’s also the story of our struggle, here and now.