“All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness.. by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink…’ The people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?..’ And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?'” Exodus 17:1-3,7
At most only three months had passed since the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, and the heart-stopping wall of water, the roar of the wind and crunch of millions of feet hurrying to the opposite shore, the breathless amazement at being caught up in an unimaginable, victorious deliverance had to be still fresh and tingly in their minds. Who could ever forget? Its account is in chapter 14, followed by a lofty song of praise and two more miracles of bitter water turned sweet, and the delivery of manna from heaven, but, almost unbelievably, we hear the Israelites’ grumbling. Really? Not only had God in immeasurable power held back the Sea for this whole nation to cross on dry ground, but He had generously and remarkably met their immediate needs for food and drink with His supernatural flair. Did they really doubt His motive and His keeping, His love and care? How quickly they moved from strong, joyful faith to fickle complaining– because all was not easy.
Before I criticize, I must ask, am I such a chameleon? Am I a glad worshiper, a steady follower, a compliant obeyer as long as things go my way and I am comfortable and satisfied, but a whiner and blamer of God when the going gets rough? Do I lip-serve God as my Sovereign, but live as though life is really all about me? When this is my story, my M.O., I am really believing that I know best and I deserve that best, rather than trusting God to be Who He is and to rule my life as He sees fit. Look for the evidences: irritations at glitches, impatience at roadblocks and delays, frustration at changes of plans, anger when others do not heartedly agree with my view and condone my decisions. Am I, too, a grumbling Israelite, grateful for every grand display of God’s blessing and power, but miffed when He doesn’t go along with what I want? When He blusters storms of cold and snow, do I whine for sunshine?
Oh God, lift my sights and desires to You. Make me remember not only what You have done, but why, trusting Who You are and how marvelously You accomplish all You intend. You are writing a beautiful story, You are weaving the whole plot and know the perfect ending. Increase my trust in You as the Author and perfecter of my faith, and turn all my grumbling in the present to expectant, joyful praise to You Who hold the now and the glorious to come. (Hebrews 12:2)