Thursday, March 16, 2017

Complaining in the Wilderness

The Old Testament text for today is the story from Exodus about the people of Israel complaining in the wilderness.  They now look back on their time enslaved in Egypt as better than this hunger:

"If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 

God assures Moses that he will rain down bread with enough for each day.with twice as much on the 6th day so they can worship on the 7th. And Moses tells the people that their complaints were not against him as much as again Yahweh. 

I have to say that I have a lot of problems with complainers in general (except when it is me!). 
I found some quotes about complaining
People won't have time for you if you are always angry or complaining - Stephen Hawking

Be grateful for what you have and stop complaining - it bores everybody else, does you no good, and doesn't solve any problems.  Zig Ziglar

 Complaining not only ruins everybody else's day, it ruins the complainer's day, too. The more we complain, the more unhappy we get.  Dennis Prager

All of this I believe and to be really honest, the truth is that  my biggest complaint with my husband - his complaining!  However, in this text the complaints did something - God responded to the hungry children of Israel.  So, I am not going to write about not complaining or to be people of gratitude.

What I see as truly important here is the understanding of God's provision.  This is a story about freedom from slavery which is possible for all of us. And we are enslaved people in so many ways.  It goes beyond addictions to the slavery to our ego, our anger, our desires, our lusts, our greed, our fear, our anxiety,  our pride....the list goes on and on.

What relationship with God does is help us to find the way out of that which does not give life and to find a new way in to a new way of living.  And it will involve times of hunger and distorted memory of the past and having to trust in a little bit of bread to get me through to the next day.

I have always like this story especially when I was a leader in the church because I knew about complaining Christians.  But it is much more than that.  It is about trusting the one who is trying to help us to disentangle ourselves - get unhooked - from thoughts, desires and behaviors - that kept us bound up in ourselves. So I think perhaps we should pay  attention to our complaints and see if they are tied in to movement away from Egypt leading us to the promised land.  It is possible they will inform us  of progress in this journey.

And most important I want to remember that Manna in the wilderness does not look like much - but it will be enough to sustain me for another day.


There is another word for this - GRACE - Here are the first 3 verses from Amazing Grace
  1. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
    That saved a wretch like me!
    I once was lost, but now am found;
    Was blind, but now I see.
  2. ’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
    And grace my fears relieved;
    How precious did that grace appear
    The hour I first believed.
  3. Through many dangers, toils and snares,
    I have already come;
    ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
    And grace will lead me home.

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