“And the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin. And Miriam died there and was buried there. Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron [and] quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Would that we had perished! Why have you brought [us] into this wilderness,.. to this evil place?’ Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them…
“Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom: ‘Please let us pass through your land.‘ But he said, ‘You shall not pass through.’ And Edom came out against them with a large army and with a strong force… And they journeyed from Kadesh, and the people of Israel came to Mount Hor… And Aaron died there on the top of the mountain… From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way and spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.’ Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.
“They continued to Beer… Then Israel sang this song: ‘Spring up, O well!—Sing to it!—’ Numbers 20:1-6,14,17,20,22,28; 21:4-6,16-17
His was an unimaginably hard daily existence, wandering through the desert in charge of thousands of unmotivated, grumbling Israelites, going nowhere fast. Moses knew it would be years before they reached the promised land, and was freshly and painfully aware he would not even be able to lead them in. His only siblings had died, his ‘white noise’ was constant complaining by those he led, and at every new turn there was an impasse, rejection, more scrappy fighting or lengthy detouring to make their way forward. (Numbers 20:10-13)
What enabled Moses to keep on? It was the glory of the LORD, his Captain. It was the well He supplied, the deep drink and sustenance that bowing before Him affords. It was the living water He bubbles inside us when we come to Him. His Lord was his constant companion, his Paraclete, the One who was ever-present and spoke personally and guided him. His goal was clear and his heart’s desire was to obey and fulfill his calling. He clung to God in desperation, in dependence, and found in Him proven faithfulness, and strong resolve. (Numbers 21:16-17; Psalm 46:1; John 4:14; 14:16,26)
Do we faint when the going is hard? Do we stub toes on grumbling and stumble on disappointment? Does grief weigh us down for longer than it need? Surely there is a time for sorrow, but the trials we meet also produce endurance over time, enabling us to move ahead with steadfast confidence in the One who has ordained and is redeeming them. (Ecclesiastes 3:4; James 1:2-4)
Do we plod with spotty tolerance in growing irritation, or, as Friedrich Nietzsche stated, with a long obedience in the same direction?
Lord, keep me drawing deeply from Your wellspring of life, and plodding not somehow, but triumphantly.