God and Monotony
By Rev. Daniel Pinell
The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” – Numbers 11: 4-6.
Many years ago, I worked in a gas station that was mostly empty after 8 pm. After doing all that needed to be done, I would sit at the counter, waiting for customers to arrive. These were the days before smartphones, so I had little technological companions other than an old radio. The monotony was paralyzing. Boredom became painful, and I developed an abhorrence towards this monotony that I now deter with technology.
Looking back at the people of God, their journey towards the Promised Land was also inundated with monotony. Traveling through the desert for 40 years, they experienced their shared of lack. Not that God didn’t provide for them, but what they craved was an end to the monotony with an influx of choices. They desired variety with such intensity that they were willing to suffer slavery to pay for it.
It is in times like today, when a crisis upends our choice-addicted lifestyle, that self-reflection on our lifestyle is useful. Many of us desire for things to go back to normal, not only because we don’t want a Pandemic to take away our loved ones, but also because we don’t want it to take away our array of choices. Our society is one that recognizes “choice” as the privilege of the economically advantaged. To be robbed of our choices can feel like poverty to some of us.
There are many things you can do, of course, to improve the chances of keeping your sanity during these times of socially distancing. Rev. Caroline has written some excellent articles on the subject. Go ahead and do those things to relieve some pressure.
But what I want us to focus here is in the embracing of simplicity that this crisis can force on us. In what ways is God calling us to pay attention to what really matters? If we remove the choices that at times attack us with distractions, can we focus on the one thing that really matters? Use this opportunity to look at the wonderful, deep, and never-ending love of God. Allow this relationship with your Creator to redirect your relationship with those around you. Do not try to fight away the monotony by artificially injecting it away with more entertainment choices. Perhaps we can discover that God can transform monotony into a beautiful simplicity if we only focus on Him.