Looking On

“And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens…”

Exodus 2:11a

Moses is, to say the least, an interesting and complex character.

Hidden as a child from harm, raised in luxury and wealth in an adopted family, led to see the suffering of his native people, driven to an act of violence on their behalf, fleeing into the desert as a result, and ultimately being led by God to lead his people out of bondage to freedom.  Like I said – interesting and complex.

Some have spent their entire careers as Biblical scholars trying to understand just one or two aspects of this man and I certainly cannot begin to sum up his life in one small blog post.  So I won’t be foolish enough to try.

On the other hand – I am struck by this passage of scripture – the one that begins the story of how Moses as a young man killed an Egyptian who was opposing a Hebrew slave.  I certainly do not advocate such violence.  Still, look at the depth of passion – the driven emotion – to stand up for the one oppressed.  That is what strikes me here.  That aspect of Moses’ character – and how, sadly, in seems lacking in so many today.

As I have said in other posts, it worries me how angry and in angst so many today seem to be.  So many are ready to fight at the drop of a hat – political issues, social issues, habits, opinions – we are so divided as a people, a nation, and a world.

Some might look at Moses’ action – passionately killing to protect another – as a call to violent action.  I wouldn’t go that far.

On the other hand, the passion is worth noting.

We need, I would suggest, less anger – less self-righteousness – less “I’m right and it is my duty to show how wrong you are” – and more compassion, more looking on “their burdens” – more empathy.  We need to be passionate about healing wounds, not causing them. We need to find ways to see where some have no voice, and speak on their behalf.  Not to start a fight, not to cause problems, but to simply be moved in compassionate ways.

I know some may accuse me of taking this verse out of context to grind my own ax about acts of compassion.

OK – guilty as charged.

I think the world is very angry right now and we, those of us called Christians, need to be busier bringing some soothing balm to all that anger, some healing to all that hurt.

Do it in large – or small ways – but do it.  Find a way to bring some healing.  And you will be healed yourself.

Moses paid a high price for his impulsive action, not to mention the high price the Egyptian paid for his cruelty to others.  But I applaud the spirit behind the action just the same.  The passion, the compulsion, the impulsive reaching out to alleviate the suffering of one who could not act in his own defense, that is surely something to applaud and emulate.

Look around you – there is suffering everywhere.  What can you – what can I – do to ease it?

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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