(3rd in a series for National Bible Week. Reflection on Exodus 14:29-30; 15:1-2, 19-21)
“I hope I never see you again.”
Mark could hardly believe his ears. “Excuse me?”
“I hope to never see you again,” the radiologist repeated. “The cancer’s gone.”
Gone! All those months of treatments; the pain, the weakness, the worry, a diagnosis that meant it was only a matter of time. He turned to Kate, whose eyes were bright with joy. “Gone! For real? Thank the Lord!”
Yes. Thank the Lord . . .
Miracles happen all the time, if we have eyes to see them. Sometimes they’re “everyday miracles,” like new life sprouting after a fire or an unexpected check in the mail. Other times things happen that are so great, they must be attributed to God. A tumor disappears overnight. A child survives a tornado. A young woman escapes from abuse. How do we express our joy?
In Exodus we read about the miraculous rescue of Israel at the Red Sea. Safely across and seeing their enemy “dead on the seashore” (14:30), the people recognized the hand of God. “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously,” Moses and the people sang; “the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea” (15:1). They could hardly believe their eyes. Then Miriam led the women in the same refrain. They took up tambourines and danced.
How remarkable that is, to me, that they had tambourines. They have been slaves for generations, without hope. Imagine the lives those women must have led, the effort it took just to keep their families together. And that final night, following all the directions for the Passover, leaving amid the death of Egypt’s first-born sons, running from Pharaoh’s armies, getting caught up against the sea: who thought to bring the tambourines? Who knew how to dance for joy?
“Sing to the Lord,” Miriam told the women. It was a command. You know those tambourines we brought, believing that somehow, some way, God would deliver us? He’s done it! Now is the time to sing and dance and give him praise.
Our God is a God who delivers. This “Song of the Sea” (Shirat HaYem) is part of a Jewish morning prayer. It’s recited twice a year, publicly, in the synagogues. Catholics hear it yearly in the Easter Vigil. Why? Because recalling God’s saving works reminds us that God delivers; that he cares for his people; that he has plans for our blessing; that he is far more powerful than any kind of enemy we might have. As we recall God’s saving works in history, we find new hope for our current struggles. And we can join in the dance.
Find your story in God’s story. Are you enslaved by addiction? a victim of abuse? controlled by pain? overwhelmed by work? Stop to consider: Where is your tambourine?
Open your eyes to see God’s hand in your life, past and present. Remember his triumph at the Red Sea. Moses’s song ends in hope for the future: “You will bring them in, and plant them on your own mountain. . . . The LORD will reign for ever” (15:17-18). Read it, reflect on it, and make it your song too.
© 2015 Sarah Christmyer. This post was previously published as a reflection on EntertheStoryNow.com under the title, “Has Your Family Danced for Joy?”
Heavenly Father, we celebrate times when you bring us—beyond all hope—to a new place, safe from oppression. We are grateful that you are our deliverer: this is what you do. You make a way for us in the sea. You fight for your children. Help us remember what you’ve done for us so we can tell these family stories for generations to come. There will be more journeys ahead, but right now, we remember and celebrate. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
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Look for these daily posts during National Bible Week, November 16-20 (links will be active after they post):
- THE BIBLE: A BOOK FOR THE FAMILY (Series introduction and reflection on Esther)
- THE BIBLE: A BOOK FOR FAMILIES caught in a storm (Reflection on Matthew 14:22-23)
- THE BIBLE: A BOOK FOR FAMILIES who have been delivered – or who need a miracle! (Reflection on Exodus 14:29-30; 15:1-2, 19-21)
- THE BIBLE: A BOOK FOR FAMILIES who are asking, “Now what?” (Reflection on Luke 1:26-38)
- THE BIBLE: A BOOK FOR FAMILIES who pray for the impossible (Reflection on Acts 12:4-19)
- THE BIBLE: A BOOK FOR FAMILIES that are broken (Reflection on Luke 15:11-32)
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Download these resources from the Catholic Ministries of the American Bible Society, prepared for the World Meeting of Families. Discussion Guides relate to the Scripture in this blog post:
- Family Discussion Guide
- Parish Discussion Guide
- Gospel of Luke 22-day “Journey” – Family Lectio Divina