Tuesday 11th August 2020 The Plague of Gnats
Exodus 8 16 – 19
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron, “Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, so that it may become gnats throughout the whole land of Egypt.”’ And they did so; Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and gnats came on humans and animals alike; all the dust of the earth turned into gnats throughout the whole land of Egypt. The magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, but they could not. There were gnats on both humans and animals. And the magicians said to Pharaoh, ‘This is the finger of God!’ But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.
Anyone who has lived or holidayed in the West and Highlands of Scotland will understand the misery of the Egyptian people as the plague of gnats descended. One word says it all: MIDGES.
These blood-sucking cousins of gnats have ruined endless peaceful summer evenings in the garden, on picnics, camping, fishing or walking. They never arrive singly, but in battalions. No amount of flailing arms and slaps will keep them all from their banquet on exposed areas of flesh.
Away from the territories inhabited by the insects, we have metaphorical gnats and midges of our own. They are the worries and fears that get into our heads and multiply, swarming day and night until they bring us low, though too often reluctant to share our state of mind or seek help.
This is especially true at the time of writing (April) during the Covid-19 lockdown. Many are enduring “mind midges”. Dread of disease, loneliness, separation from those we love, burning anger when we feel others are behaving irresponsibly, bereavement without the release of full funerals – all play their part in causing us mental distress. Even the strongest have bad days.
Some peace of mind in any troubles of life can come from quiet prayer and reflection; not shouty demands of God, for that just drowns out “the still small voice” which restored Elijah (1 Kings: 19). Driven close to madness and desiring death, he travelled on to Mount Horeb and there he found God with him – not in turbulent storm, earthquake or fire, but in the “gentle whisper” (NIV).
When we are in mental distress, let us admit the comfort offered by God in quiet prayer. And we should also seek counsel from people we trust. Working together, they can help us to cope.
Loving God, please grant us peace of mind and calm our troubled hearts;
Imbue us with the courage to give voice to what is distressing us;
Walk beside us on the path to recovery.
We know that even when we neglect your assistance, you are with us always.
Help us, Lord. Amen