Grasshoppers and Giants
The spies brought an unfavorable report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “All the people we saw in the land are of great size. There we saw the Nephilim and we seemed like grasshoppers next to them.” – Numbers 13:32-33 (NRSV, adapted)
After forty years in the desert and the death of a generation, a caravan of Israelites is at the Jordan River, the border of the Promised Land, a region flowing with milk and honey. Things are really looking up!
Then spies scope out the new country. To their dismay, the spies discover gigantic, intimidating people living there. No longer hopeful, the Israelites feel overwhelmed, outmatched, and demoralized, like bugs underfoot.
This is a story about refugees traumatized by genocide and slavery, and from living in a roving refugee camp for decades. At this point in the narrative, they discover more challenges waiting for them across the border.
Fleeing or being forced out of one’s country is a harrowing hardship. Beyond that, re-settling in a new country can be extraordinarily stressful and intimidating.
The age of Covid-19 is not a refugee experience, but we do find ourselves facing new, unfamiliar territory. We wonder if we – and our world – will be crushed like bugs underneath a giant pandemic.
I wish I could say those ancient refuges found only sunshine and roses over Jordan. In fact, things got ugly. But the One who lovingly guided the Israelites through every other gigantic obstacle, never forsook them.
Giant God, when we feel like bugs, remind us that we are infinitely precious to you.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.