I’ve been reading through the “books of Moses” recently and find it so easy to judge the Israelites for their continued grumblings. God had promised them Canaan—a land flowing with milk and honey—yet they complained about anything and everything along the way.
In the book of Numbers, there are repeated instances of Israel’s grumbling. “…the people complained about their hardships…” (Numbers 11:1). “…[They] began to crave other food and began wailing, and said, ‘If only…’ ” (11:4). “All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, ‘If only…’ ”(14:2). They became insolent towards Moses and Aaron, and ultimately towards God. In His anger and justice, God caused the earth to swallow up the ringleaders, and His fire consumed 250 power-hungry community leaders, saving only their soot-stained censers. He sent out a plague that killed 14,700 people before it was stopped by Aaron swinging his holy censer (16:3). And then—get this—16:41 states: “The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron.”
The people were short on water and food. I imagine I would have complained, too. But God had promised to care for them. In His time, He gave them water, good and sufficient. In His time, He sent them manna, always enough if they followed His instructions, but never more than they needed for each day. They expected Him to provide for them, not because He was Almighty God and they were His chosen people, but because they saw Him as their own personal magician. They had lost their perspective.
How often do I lose my perspective? Our society strongly suggests that we have all our ducks lined up long before we need them. Insurance, retirement funds, nest eggs, all good things but they do encourage us trust in ourselves. And yet, when our human resources dry up, we grumble and complain that God has forgotten us, disappointed us.
Does God disappoint us? If we expect the future to be cared for today, then yes. If we expect all our wants to be supplied, yes. But if we lean on Him for our daily needs, never. We must allow Him to direct our lives and bless us in His way and in His time. After all, we belong to Him. He is our Shepherd, our Living Water, our Bread of Life. Surely He is able, but we must not let our human expectations get in the way.
Am I willing to learn to trust God’s timing, or will I choose instead to grumble? Desert times are not forever. Canaan is just across the river.