Grumbling in the Desert

Jess and I are continuing our way through the entirety of the Bible. We finished Genesis about a week ago and are now in Exodus. I feel as though this is one of the more commonly known books of the Old Testament. It is the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. It also contains some of the most famous scenes of the Bible: the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the Ten Commandments, and the Jews wandering in the desert in search of the Promised Land. 

Notoriously, it took the Jews forty years to get from Egypt to what is present-day Israel— which was roughly 125 miles away. Really, this trip should have taken only a couple weeks; instead, it took four decades. There are a lot of reasons for that. Mostly, it was because the Jews kept disobeying God and Moses and getting themselves into trouble. However, their journey was marked by God constantly providing for them and offering them grace. 

One of those instances takes place in Exodus 16. The Israelites had been traveling for a while now and had run out of food. They did, after all, leave Egypt in a bit of a haste. Even though God told them that he would take care of them and provide for them, the people began to complain. They went as far to say, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (Exodus 16:3). Rather than trusting in God, they desired to be back in Egypt. 

You see, the Jews had already forgotten how terrible their life was while they were enslaved. They were forced to work long, hard days. They were beaten by the Egyptians and had nothing to call their own. At one point, the Pharaoh had all the newborn Jewish males killed. Their life was so terrible that they constantly cried out to God to save them from their oppressors, which he did in the most emphatic of ways. Yet, the first time that they were faced with true hardship in the desert, they wished that they were back under the tyrannical hand of the Egyptians. 

I think that this is a trap into which we can all fall: forgetting the great work that the Lord has done in our lives when we face some sort of trouble. God did amazing, supernatural things in Egypt to save his people. I’m willing to bet that God has done amazing, supernatural things in your life to bring you where you are. 

If there’s one thing that this life promises us, it’s that there will be trouble and hardship. Yet, God has not left us there. He has seen his people and heard the cry of their hearts and responded. But the next time that we find ourselves in a tough situation, we often question if God is going to be there for us.

So, how did God handle the Jews after they questioned if he would show up? He made it rain manna (bread) and gave them quail to eat. Despite their grumbling, God still showed up and provided for them. Once again, he heard the cries of his people and rode to the rescue.

God will keep showing up for you; he has promised that to us. The question is are you going to believe that or are you going to be the Israelites?  There are two ways in which you can handle the situation, trust or complain. Luckily for us, God’s love is not dependent upon our attitude. Nonetheless, I think that we should all look back at the bleak situations in which he saved us and believe that he will do it again. Complaining and grumbling should not be our go-to when we wonder whether God will show up; faith should be. 

We need to remember the times that God stepped into our brokenness and hurt and brought us through. Those need to become pillars of our faith, not distant recollections. We need to stop and think about those times. No, we shouldn’t dwell or lament on them; but, we should use those memories as a way to strengthen our hearts and minds whenever life has us down the next time. They should become celebrations of what God has done. Then the next time that you need God to come to your aid, you won’t have to wonder. There will be no need to grumble because you know that your savior is on his way.  

***If you liked this, then I think that you’ll enjoy my book. You can buy it by going here. Also, I have started a His Kingdom/ Our Good podcast. It’s available on Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, and Anchor.***

Published by smith1626

I am the Director of Youth Ministries at St. John United Methodist Church in Scott Depot, WV. Mostly, I am a sinner saved by amazing grace.

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