Undergoing trials reveals the strength or weakness of our character. It either tells how strong is our faith in God or how weak is our moral and spiritual foundation. It shows whether we take the positive or the negative side of what we are going through. And often, we easily get in despair. We lose sight of hope.
Ancient Israelites for example were so negative that they would not believe God is committed to bring them into a prosperous land. They traveled on foot as they strove to reach the Promised Land.
But they said, Can God spread a table in the desert? (Psalm 78:19). They seemed to tell, How could God make it easier for us? Would the travel be comfortable? Would we survive the lack of food and drink? Would He provide for us while were on our way? In their hearts they wished they were still in Egypt.
Egypt has the best foods since it was the center of civilization during those times. So the Israelites thought they were better off in Egypt. (Numbers 11:18). That is not true however. Yes, they were able to eat the best foods of the land. But that was in exchange of their 400-year slavery.
God showed them mercy and delivered them from such kind of bondage. So they were happy. But only for a moment. For after a while, they got the nerve to complain.
Despite this, God kept doing miracles over and over again. He saved them from all obstacles they encountered. He guided them with clouds by day and fire by night. He provided them food for the long and wearisome journey. He gave them water out of rocks. Their feet did not swell neither did their sandals and clothes wear off. God did these in 40 years as they traveled towards Canaan.
But how did the Israelites respond to God? A psalmist wrote, In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of His wonders, they did not believe. (Psalm 78:32). He continued, They put God to the test and rebelled against the Most High; they did not keep His statutes. Like their fathers they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow. They angered Him with their high places; they aroused His jealousy with their idols. (vv. 56-58)
That was hurtful for God! They did not only refuse Him. They exchanged Him for idols! But God is slow to anger. He put up with them. He remembered they were but flesh, a passing breeze that does not return. (v. 39)
The account shows how unbelieving men react about hunger, thirst and exhaustion. It shows how people treat the pain of waiting and how they respond to long journeys. It shows how they treat God in all of those. But there is more to life than having all the things we need and want.
The Israelites missed the point. God does not mean to punish them. He wants them to be near Him. That they would come to Him and tell Him about how they feel. He wanted them to know that He is with them through the trials they go through. He just wanted them to know Him. Then they should have understood that what really matters most in life is to know God. Then the coming of the blessings would just be a bonus.
Jesus made it clear in the New Testament. So do not worry, saying, what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)
1. What are the things that you usually complain about? Why? What does complaining do to you?
2. Do you know someone who has a habit of complaining? How does it affect you? What lessons can you draw from such?
Contentment comes to those who value what comes to them, be it small or big blessing.