It doesn’t take long to forget where we come from, does it? The first time we come up against struggle, or things don’t work in our time frame, then we instantly start finding excuses to go back, to grumble about our present, to lose faith in what we know to be true.
“The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
The Israelites had seen, felt, heard and experienced God’s divine hand in their lives in a very intimate way. They not only had faith, but they were lucky enough to have seen God’s working in amazing ways. I mean, they crossed in-between the Red Sea! They watched God roll it back, they travelled through it, they watched the waters come back together and destroy every last man in the enemy army that chased them.
The Lord even appeared before them as a pillar of cloud or column of flame. He left no doubt where they were supposed to go and when. He literally was walking them through the desert to the Promised Land.
But God wasn’t working in the way they decided he should, or in the time frame that was most convenient for them. They let his wonders and provisions take a back seat to their desires and plans.
And their ability to see the trust got twisted.
Instead of having an attitude of praise and a heart of worship, they focused instead on the things that they wanted. All of a sudden, God’s way seemed too hard. The Israelites began to Long for the “good ‘ol days” of slavery. Not even two months into their journey and they wanted to go back! From: "We don’t like slavery, get us out"! to: "Uh oh, this desert is hot and there is lots of walking. We don’t like journeying in the desert; we wish to be slaves again"!
We can read these verses and laugh in disbelief at the craziness of the Israelites thinking. We can mutter about the foolishness of these chosen people; rescued, led, provided for and loved by God. But do we stop to find the meaning of what God has for us?
How many times have we started a ministry only to turn around a few months later and complain about the time, energy and difficulties we face?
How often do we pray for an answer to a struggle or doubt, and then give up when we don’t get our answer in 48 hours or less?
Have you ever prayed for a change in your situation, and then complained when it happened?
It is easy to wish for what was. Sometimes we even want to go back to a situation that isn’t for our best-simply because we don’t like the new challenges or struggles. Better the evil we know…. But that isn’t true. That is one of Satan’s best tools. And sometimes we just want to sit down in the middle of the desert and give up on pressing on. “What’s the point?” we ask.
God would never put us in a situation that wouldn’t grow us, teach us, strengthen us and encourage us. He never asks us to go back, but he also never promises that things will be easy. Or fair. Or happy. But he does promise to show us the way he wants us to go, to provide for us, and even in the middle of the worst of it all, we will know joy because we know Him.
“You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”
If you feel you are in the desert, and that it would just be better to give up and go back, don’t let Satan fool you! What was behind isn’t nearly as amazing as what God has planned for you! The incomparable Apostle Paul said it much better than I ever could:
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”