I spoke with a dear Christian recently in the hospital. She had been in terrible pain and finally the doctors were able to bring it under control. She told me that during the worst of the attacks, she often cried out to God for relief, but, she said, “sometimes I just said ‘Why me? What have I done?’”
How do you know the will of God? How do you know whether the circumstances of your life are God’s doing or just chance?
The people in our reading find themselves in just such a predicament.
Israel undertook to attack the Philistines, but they never asked if it was God’s will. Further, they never asked God for success. When their attack failed, they did not reason that the problem might have been with them, or with their distance from God in their behavior.
The story in these chapters sets you up to hear about David moving the Ark to Jerusalem but it also deals with knowing God’s will. Israel would have done better had they reflected on their lives to see if they might not have deserved what they’d gotten. They didn’t have to wonder. A moment’s reflection would have revealed it. They would also have done better had they inquired of the Lord’s will. But they didn’t.
Life’s full of stuff that happens, sometimes just a consequence of life. We get older and wear out. Our circumstances are simply a part of living. On the other hand, sometimes our circumstances are the result of failing to talk with and listen to God. Honesty in reflection will reveal the real source of our troubles, and provide us a course for the future.