Editor’s Note: The AMI QT Devotionals from October 18-25 are provided by Kate Moon who serves as a missionary in E. Asia.
Food for Thought for the Weekend
Ezra 10:9-13: 9 “Within the three days, all the men of Judah and Benjamin had gathered in Jerusalem. And on the twentieth day of the ninth month, all the people were sitting in the square before the house of God, greatly distressed by the occasion and because of the rain. 10 Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, ‘You have been unfaithful; you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. 11 Now honor the Lord, the God of your ancestors, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.’ 12 The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: ‘You are right! We must do as you say. 13 But there are many people here and it is the rainy season . . .’”
In church growing up, I often found it strange when a pastor or the person making the announcements would thank or praise the people for coming out on a Sunday even though it was raining. To me, church was like school or work or even plans to go watch a movie – if it was a pre-planned indoor activity, it would never cross my mind to cancel, just because it was raining. Not being willing to go through rain seemed kind of silly to me. And then I moved to Asia.
Of the many things that clicked for me after moving here, all the things that I’d never quite understood (like why do Asian older people always seem to be so concerned about whether I’ve eaten or not?) but have since moving here, were cultural (“Have you eaten yet?” is a greeting not meant to be taken literally)—and rainy days was one of them. At first, I was surprised by how easily people cancelled plans on a rainy day; now I, too, take it in as a factor for whether or not I want to go out (or still ask someone to come out to meet me) on a given day.
On first reading about how the gathered Israelites were “distressed by the occasion and because of the rain,” as if the two were of equal importance, it seems almost comical. But on further reflection, it is a touching detail that the historian chose to record, an acknowledgment of human frailty and vulnerability to the inclemencies of weather. That the leaders took the people’s emotional state, affected by their physical discomfort and threat of illness, into account is touching as well.
The way the leaders and people interacted showed a healthy mutual respect. The leaders had come up with the “what” they needed to do, the people responded with the “how” with suggestions for adjustments to the original plan—and the leaders listened. The leaders could have taken the people’s suggestions the wrong way, misinterpreting their not wanting to deal with the problem right then and there as their not taking the matter seriously; it is to the leaders’ credit that they were able to see the people’s heart was to do the right thing. A good example to take to heart today.
Lord, when interacting with others today, help me to put the person first, trusting their intentions, taking into consideration their concerns. Help me to be loving. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Zephaniah 1