Thursday, November 12th 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

One of the universal ailments which plague humankind is the sense we have of “terminal uniqueness.” This is the often unspoken idea we have that no one else is just like us, no one else has had to deal with what we have had to deal with, no one else has been burdened (or has been a burden) like we have. We are terminally unique.

There is a sense in which this is true. Every one of God’s children is unique, uniquely made, one of a kind and wonderful. No doubt about it. And yet as we move into the world which we share with everybody else, the odds are very good that while there might not be anyone else who has gone through everything we have, at least at the same time, there is probably nothing that ever happens to us that hasn’t happened before to someone else. In that sense, we aren’t unique at all. We’re just another rat in the race, another soul standing under the cross.

This is what Paul is trying to communicate to the Corinthians. Yes, they are a sometimes beleaguered little community within a diverse and cosmopolitan city. Yes, they suffer from the constant pressure to conform themselves to an idolatrous, lustful, dangerous culture. Yes, they fight amongst themselves far more than is healthy or helpful. But they are not the first. They are not alone. And neither are we.

As we will see in tomorrow’s gospel reading, there is always a bit of danger in how we interpret, and how we spiritually experience, the difficult times in our lives. We walk down a road with two ditches. We fall into one ditch when we decide we know exactly what God is doing and we fall into the other when we leave God out of the picture altogether. Between those ditches, with humility, we do well to ask a simple question, “What is God up to in this?”

We ask that question and, like Paul, we can look back at the past for insight or peer into the future for possibilities, either way, when we wonder what God is up to, when we leave the door open to God’s participation in our lives, then we can sense God’s presence and power. We are not alone. We are not the first. We won’t be the last.

But with God’s help, we can learn from, endure and survive the difficult moments of our lives. We can find open windows when doors slam shut. We can find a way out even though we have no idea how we got in. We can trust that, with God’s help, we can find a way.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, when the trials of our lives become overwhelming and we feel life closing in, we often feel alone, abandoned and powerless. In some ways, we are. That is the place where we need your gifts of surrender, acceptance and courage. Teach us to trust you in all things. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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