I desperately wanted to write a devotional this morning, but for some reason, my mind wouldn’t cooperate. I had ideas, but none of them seemed like the right one for today. Typically, when I go through this writer’s block, it helps me to go back and read some of my older devotionals. Sometimes, it sparks an idea or confirms something I was already working on. And sometimes, I discover one or more of the devotions I read were not only written by me but also for me. Today was no exception. I had only read of couple of older posts when I came upon this one, and boy, did it resonate with me this morning! I hope it will be a blessing to you as well.
The children of Israel were weary and discouraged. I get that. They'd been wandering around for forty years. Recently, they had become prey to some of the meanest inhabitants of the very land they had been promised. They were tired, frustrated and ready to be done. It's certainly understandable. Unfortunately, they took their frustration too far and reacted poorly to their emotional turmoil.
"Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?" It wasn't enough for them to be unhappy. They had to make sure everyone else knew it too. They griped to Moses. They whined to God. If Aaron had still been alive, I'm sure he would have gotten an earful as well. Gripe, whine, complain. Can you relate? I'm ashamed to admit that I'm apt to complain when I'm tired, and things aren't going my way. I gripe to my husband, a friend, God, the dog, or even myself if no one else is around. But the problem is, complaining doesn't fix the problem; it only causes us to focus on it all the more.
"Why have you brought us here? This is all your fault, Moses. . . and you too, God." Nice, huh? All I can say is that both God and Moses had a lot more patience than I do. If I had been either of them, I would have walked away from those ungrateful people a long time ago. But fortunately for us, God is patient and merciful. We, too, like to play the blame game. After all, it was "his" fault that I got angry. "She" started it. I wouldn't be so frustrated if "somebody" would do what they're supposed to do. Yes, we live in a day and age that thrives on excusing poor behavior by passing the buck on to someone else. The teenager who carried a gun into school and shot seventeen people shouldn't be held accountable because it's obvious he didn't get enough hugs when he was growing up. Seriously? Again, blaming doesn't solve the problem. It merely helps us feel better about ourselves and justified in our actions.
"There's nothing to eat or drink around here." Ironically enough, they contradict themselves in the last phrase of their complaint: "and we loathe this light bread." First, they say there isn't any bread; then they say they loathe the "light bread." So, which is it? The fact is what they said and what they meant obviously weren't the same thing. It wasn't that there wasn't any food. It was the fact that there wasn't any food that they wanted. We tend to do the same thing by using words like all, everything, none, and nothing. We say, "Everything is going wrong today" when, in fact, only a few things went wrong. We say, "Nobody does anything to help around here," but what we mean is that others don't help out enough or in the ways we expect. We overlook the truth and fly off the handle with exaggerations, which makes the initial problem seem much bigger than it actually is.
They were ungrateful.
"Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die?" "We hate this manna!" Well, there's gratitude for you. How about, "Thank you, Lord, for delivering us from a life of slavery"? Or maybe, "How nice it has been not to have to worry about food for this entire journey"? They didn't thank God for His constant guidance and protection. They didn't praise Him for the victory over their enemies He had just given them. Instead of being thankful for their daily supply of manna, they threw it in God's face and told Him how much they despised it. Again, I see God's patience because I would have told the ungrateful bunch, "Fine! You don't like it; don't eat it!" Sorry, but unthankfulness pushes my buttons, which is amazing to me because I can be quite ungrateful myself. Instead of thanking God for His goodness to me, I find myself complaining or asking for more. And that attitude causes me to sink that much further into my discouragement.
As you can see, the children of Israel responded poorly to their weariness. Not only did they display bad attitudes and poor behavior, but they failed to help themselves. In fact, they only made things worse. Complaining, blaming, exaggerating and being ungrateful will never result in a better attitude or a better journey. They will only keep us trapped in a negative mindset.
Fortunately, the Bible gives us a beautiful picture of the right way to respond to weariness, and Lord willing, we'll discuss that in tomorrow's post. I hope you'll join me!