My thoughts (Linda Bernabie):
As Moses prays to a Lord of anger and wrath, I ask myself, “Is this the same Lord to whom I offer up prayers and give my love? Is this a Lord of love, mercy, and abundant goodness and truth, or a Lord of anger and wrath?”
Some people conclude that the Lord is constantly merciful to good people, and condemns those who rebel. If this is their conclusion, they must believe the Lord constantly alternates between wrath and mercy. Others believe that the Lord loves us, and will bestow grace even when angered by us.
“Can God be full of wrath and at the same time be loving and merciful?”
As a young person I was a “free spirit.” I was not influenced by authority or tradition. As I disregarded authority and did my best to preserve my own identity, I regularly incurred the wrath of my parents and surely broke their hearts. In their role as parents, they felt their duty was to make me painfully aware of my transgressions and errors in judgment in order to put me on a life path which would surely be filled with success and happiness.
During my years of rebellion, many times I created an atmosphere of overwhelming anger and hostility. Eventually, with shame and a contrite heart, I would ask them for forgiveness and apologize for making them angry and sad. We would reconcile and the anger and sadness would be washed away, and our relationship would be, temporarily, renewed. This situation would be replayed repeatedly as I continuously rebelled.
As an adult, I no longer went to my parents for forgiveness, but to God. Even with God in my heart, I continued to falter, and still do, so God and I began a close relationship through prayer. My preferred order of prayer went something like this: Ask forgiveness for my transgressions, ask for the needs of myself and others, thank God for my many blessings, and close with “I am sorry, if I have offended thee.”
Then one day I came across a bewildering picture of Jesus with tears of sadness running down his cheeks, but his eyes had a look of anger. This dichotomy spoke deeply to my soul. At that moment I realized that when I sin, God, like my earthly parents, is saddened and angry but will give me merciful love and grace. All I need to do is have a contrite heart, ask for forgiveness, and most importantly apologize for the anger and sadness I had caused.
I no longer close with my prayer time with, “I am sorry, if I have offended thee.” I close with these words of reconciliation, “I am sorry, if I have angered and saddened you. I will, with my actions, dry your tears, and give you peace.”
Thought for the Day: When you think God is angry and disappointed with you, look up and you will see the waiting arms of love, mercy, and abundant goodness ready to grant you forgiveness.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.