I grew up in Texas. The summers are swelteringly hot. Even just a short time out in the August heat and your face flushes and you begin to sweat. Too long out in the heat without shade or water and you can get to feeling over-heated.
So imagine walking around in the desert for days, and then months and then years on end. How would you feel? Would you be tired, hot, disappointed or frustrated? I bet one thing is for sure. You would have the need for water on your mind constantly.
Would you worry or complain? Would you be thankful, or would you become irritated, upset and angry?
When we face a struggle, hardship or disappointment, it is easy to want to complain and be upset. It is natural to feel anxious. However, it isn’t the characteristic that God is after in us. His desire is that we know Him abundantly and that we be anxious for nothing.
The Bible says in Philippians 4: 4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Our children are imitators of the behavior and words they see us model. Does that make you cringe a little? Have you ever flinched hearing something you said repeated by your child?
If so, you are not alone. God feels that way about His children too.
The book of Numbers, tells us that the Israelites wandered around in the desert for 40 years, after Moses and Aaron lead them out of bondage to Pharaoh! Can you imagine that? I mean just think about that for a second. First, they experience famine, then slavery, then the plagues and now they are in the desert. The Bible tells us they wandered around in the desert, in the hot sand, with no shade, for what would be about half our lifetime here on earth. I don’t know about you, but my first inclination would not be a positive one and yet, the Bible tells us to let our gentleness be evident as we rejoice, pray and with thanksgiving present our requests to God.
Back to the Israelites
The Bible tells us in Exodus 2:23-25 “During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.”
Why did God keep the Israelites from the promised land, He had for them, when He cared enough about them enough to deliver them out of slavery? If God was concerned about the Israelites, then why did they wander in the desert for 40 years?
The answer is simple. They did not believe in God and obey Him. The Promised Land was theirs. God wanted them to trust Him, and take the land. However, they let fear and doubt take over. They saw the people they were to take the land from and they appeared stronger. So, they gave into fear and doubted.
It is easy to judge the Israelites and think, “I would have believed. God delivered them from Pharaoh. He parted the Red Sea for them. He was constantly supplying for their every need.”
However, put yourself in their places. They were thirsty, tired, probably hot and most understandably tired of walking around in the desert. They were angry with their leader, Moses. Isn’t that when the enemy loves to get to us and make us doubt, when we are at our weakest? The Israelites looked at the enemy, put their focus on him, and took their focus off God.
The Israelites complained and bitterness took root in their hearts. Have you ever done that? You are facing a hardship, loss of a job, a failing relationship, an illness or unresolved hurt and you stop focusing on God and instead move your focus to the giant problem in front of you.
This is a sure fire way to find yourself in a pit of despair every time.
I would love to say that I prayerfully trust God in each trial I face. I wish I could say that I immediately focus on Him and not my pain. However, the truth is, I am learning.
Each time God gave the Israelites a chance to trust Him, what did they do? They complained and they continued to wander and thirst.
Did they prayerfully ask God and then trust Him to supply the answer? Unfortunately, they did not. Instead, they grumbled the Bible says. They encountered a problem they could not fix. So instead of waiting on God and believing He would answer, they complained. Oh how I am like the Israelites.
So what are we as believers and parents to do?
1. First, put our focus on Christ and take it off our problem.
2. Rejoice in Who God is.
3. Be gentle in demeanor, meaning, we should have humility when we approach God.
4. Be thankful to God for all He has done for us.
5. Ask Him for what we need.
6. Believe that He is who He says He is and trust Him for His answer.
If you find yourself wondering, why you are still stuck in the same place time after time, ask yourself if you are fully obeying God and trusting Him with complete obedience.