Exodus 16-18, Psalm 22
A popular children's book that I frequently read to my children before bedtime was, "Petunia Beware". In it, Petunia (I believe she was a goose), kept moving further and further away from the safety of her yard always thinking the grass was greener a little further away. Through the process, she encountered a fox, raccoon and bobcat, all who wanted to eat her. Most revealing was the grass only looked better, but it really wasn't. This childhood story is played out frequently in the real lives of many. So many teenagers groan about the injustice of their parents and can't wait to get to college or out of the house. Once away some wish they were back at home but complain about the difficulties of school or the unfairness of the professors. They can't wait to get out of school only to find themselves in a job that they consider boring with an unfair boss, longing for those great days in college. Lonely on their own they desperately seek a spouse, only to find themselves once married despairing of the freedom of the life of the single. Once married they desperately desire children, only to have some then complain about their lack of time and freedom to go out as a couple. People constantly believe the next step is all they need to make them happy. Others reflect falsely on the past believing if they could relive that, then they would be truly happy. I have a number of patients who reconnected with their old High School boyfriends, believing that would make them happy, in the process, they left their spouses behind.
Back in Exodus 2:23, we see the accurate condition of the Israelites while in Egypt, "Now it happened in the process of time that the King of Egypt died. Then the children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry came up to God because of the bondage." Prior to this in Exodus 1:11, we see that Pharoah put taskmasters over the Israelites to afflict them with burdens, and in 1:22, Pharoah forced the people to kill their newborn sons. Now they are delivered from the Egyptians, having passed through the Red Sea, and immediately we see them longing for home with delusions of how great they had it there. We read in Exodus 16:3, "And the children of Israel said to them, "Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into the wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger." You would think by this description that the Israelites were living in luxury, eating at 5-star restaurants every night. We also see them complaining about a lack of water in Exodus 15:24 and 17:3. In fact, we will see throughout their wanderings that grumbling and complaining is more the rule than the exception. Most don't realize that when they complain, it may seem innocent, but what they are really doing is complaining about God. We read in 16:8, "Also Moses said, "This shall be seen when the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the Lord hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord."
We look at all that God did in the lives of His people and all the constant complaining He received in return, it's hard not to find their level of ingratitude unfathomable. But are we any different? God has a placed us in a nation in which we are free to read His Word and worship without fear of persecution as is not the case for many of our brothers and sisters in other nations. Most of us have jobs and receive ample money to exist comfortably. Many have been blessed with spouses and children. But the favorite pastime for many is complaining and grumbling: not enough money, dead-end job, an unfair boss, difficult spouse, children who won't listen, etc. God in His mercy and grace has given us so much more then we deserve. What He chooses to give us is what we actually need, rather than what we think we need. If we are in His will, our circumstances can always be used for His glory. He has purposely put us, His children, in our current mission fields. As the Israelites left behind the only home they had ever known in Egypt, God provided for all their needs. He provided for their protection, their basic physical necessities (food and water), spiritual instruction and healing. He does the same for us today. May we reflect on this and praise Him in a spirit of gratitude for giving us so much more than we deserve. He faithfully gives us what we need, not what we greed.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: