Stephen spoke tonight from Hebrews 3:1-11, starting by quoting from Richard III: ‘now is the winter of our discontent/ Made glorious summer by the sun of York.’ We may well feel that the idea of a ‘winter of discontent’ is apt for us in lockdown, and whilst we hope for a glorious summer without restrictions, it is all too easy to be like the Israelites, and in times of trouble and testing to start grumbling and losing our focus on God. Heb 3:3 urges us to ‘fix your thoughts on Jesus’, and this is good advice to us at all times, whether in freedom or in lockdown.

Sometimes, life’s situations put us in a position where we can be constantly grumbling, like the Israelites in the wilderness. There, God led them day and night and provided for them in miraculous ways (producing water from a rock, for example, and providing manna by miraculous means to feed them each day.) They lacked nothing in the wilderness, but still kept harking back to the ‘good old days’ of slavery in Egypt where they had a wide variety of food to eat. Ex 17:7 reminds us that Moses named the place of discontent ‘Massah and Meribah’, meaning ‘quarrelling’ or ‘testing, for essentially the people doubted God’s goodness and presence, asking ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

We can feel like this too, asking if God is among us now in our trials and difficulties, but we need to ensure that our hearts do not become hardened and put God to the test. Heb 3:1-11 is a sobering warning to us not to be like the Israelites, not to test God or doubt Him, but allowing Him to touch and soften our hearts so that they are malleable, like the clay in the hands of the Poter. Our discontent, when surrendered to God, can become something beautiful in His hands. If we honour God with everything and in everything, trusting Him and keeping our eyes, minds, hearts and thoughts fixed on Him, then we can look forward to a glorious summer… not because of the sunshine or even because of the lifting of restrictions, but because of the Son whose love and light transform our situations and who gives us hope always.