I’ve found myself thinking a lot this week about my responses, inspired by the Israelites in Exodus, those with Moses and Aaron. The truth is, I would fit in among them perfectly.
They are first a people enslaved, crying out to their God for help. Honestly, I get that from a spiritual perspective. I do the things I don’t want to do – say the unkind word to my husband out of selfishness, treat my son with impatience. I don’t do the things I do want to do – pray with my son in the morning and spend time lifting up his needs to the Lord, give my husband my undivided attention in the evening to show him my love.
There are things in my life I have had to truly wrestle with, stand against, fight to break free from. And in the midst of those battles, there have been those times I have cried out to the Lord for help.
The Israelites are next a people rescued. They are freed from their slavery and in the process, they witness God’s tremendous might and power. Next time you read Exodus 7 – 14, pause frequently and close your eyes and try to picture yourself there. The sights, the sounds, the smells. I’ve never been in a crowd of panic’d people, and I’ve never faced what I would consider a widespread devastating disaster. So in a lot of ways, my imagination is the only thing I can use to try and really absorb what’s happening here. God’s power revealed to the Israelities at this point is terrifying, overwhelming. I can’t come up with a word to portray just how mighty this would have been.
In their defense, the first thing we see them do in Chapter 15 is respond with a song of deliverance. I can relate to this too. There have been times in my life I have sang and danced praises to God, my heart and soul overwhelmed by His intervention in my life. Times I’ve been brought to tears and to my knees because I am so thankful for what He has done to help me, to free me. His works in my life too are mighty, and the things He has accomplished in me are significant and powerful. I’ve never seen Him blow back the sea overnight so I could walk through on dry ground, yet I have seen Him do things that to my mind were impossible – so the power, the might, the greatness of God is still at work today.
And the Israelites and I, we are a people of complaint.
Then the people complained and turned against Moses. ‘What are we going to drink?’ they demanded. – Exodus 15:24
There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron. ‘If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,’ they moaned. ‘There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.’ – Exodus 16:2-3
So once more the people complained against Moses. ‘Give us water to drink!’ they demanded. – Exodus 17:2a
Responses. What I have found myself thinking about most this week is how the Israelites responded to their hardship, to their needs for food and water.
After witnessing God’s power, His might, His abilities on scales so grand that I can barely imagine it in my mind – their first response isn’t to go to God with their needs. Their first response is to complain.
I’ve done it. One day I have praised God for His goodness, His graciousness, His power, having witnessed Him at work – to turn around and complain the next day when the unexpected bill arrives in the mail. When the car breaks down. When a loved one falls ill. When temptation comes and rears it’s ugly head over a sin that I feel I’m just barely defeating.
It’s so easy to complain because complaining requires no faith. And complaining, once it gets going, can really go far. So far as to say words like “if only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt”. In other words, complaining can lead to a place where we take the miraculous work God has done in our lives, and say it would have been better had it never happened.
I don’t want to be a woman of complaint. I want to be a woman of faith. A woman whose first response when faced with a need, with a hardship, with an unexpected situation – is to go to the Lord in Prayer. To pause in my driveway and pray over the unexpected bill I just opened. To sit in the broken car and cry out to my God with my need. To fall to my knees and seek God for healing and help over the news of a loved one. To stand firm in prayer when faced with temptation.
I want my first response to be prayer so that my heart is consumed with seeking God and His power, and so that the seed of complaint has no room to be planted in my heart, no room to take root, no room to deny what God has accomplished, can accomplish, and will accomplish.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. – Psalm 19:14
May my responses to the unexpected and hardships be opportunities to live in Faith and worship You, O LORD.