March 23

Worn Out by the Journey

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but with their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” —Numbers 21:4-5

In this passage, the Israelites had escaped slavery in Egypt and thought they were headed quickly for the Promised Land where they would settle in peace with plenty to eat. Little did they know that escaping from slav­ery wouldn’t make their lives smooth and easy instantaneously (as African Americans in the United States know so well). The Israelites had a much longer road in front of them than they imagined. They had 40 years in the wilderness before they reached the Promised Land, and for much of that time, food and water were scarce. Some of them never made it to their new land. Is it surprising then that they had periods of impatience and com­plaining against God and their leader, Moses?

So if you are worn out now, impatient with government (or church) lead­ers, and you find yourself complaining to God about this wilderness time, you are not alone. You are in good company because millions of our ances­tors in faith have had their patience worn thin during challenging times. Like them, may we come to recognize that all of our normal, human emo­tions are permissible before God and that God will not abandon us, even if we complain about the food God provides.

FOR PRAYER: Turning to God as if to a friend, be as open and honest as possible about what you are feeling and thinking now. Then allow some quiet to see how God wants to respond.