Day 10

The People’s Complaints

from the reading plan

Numbers 11:1-35, Exodus 16:1-36, Psalm 78:17-20, Philippians 2:14-15

Most of us don’t spend our days plotting out plans that will take us backward. We may daydream about the past or romanticize the good old days, but we don’t actually want to go backward—do we?

Not too long ago I caught myself admitting, with sincerity in my words and sorrow in my tone, ”I just want to go back. And I don’t even care which season. I just really don’t want to be in this one.”

A couple of days later, my small group was studying these same stories from today’s Scripture reading. I wanted to go back, just like the Israelites. Despite having evidence of the Lord all around me, present pain took over my view of the past. And as I sat in my kitchen and Israel sat in the wilderness, we both found ourselves talking about how much we craved where we once had been.

I haven’t quite figured out the perfect formula for how to talk about disappointment, fear, or sorrow. Trust me, I’ve tried. Maybe you, like me, hoped that after reading the different narratives in today’s reading that I would be able to answer some questions for you: Why do God’s responses seem different in each story? Weren’t they all complaining, even Moses? And why does the Exodus narrative feel so different from Numbers?

And then I start trying to figure out the formula in my head. Surely one of these stories must be the right way to do it? Maybe if I can figure out how to complain more like Moses, then it’s okay for me to do it too? Or maybe if I complain like Israel did in Exodus instead of Numbers, I can make sure that the Lord will respond with provision instead of punishment.

I’ll admit, today’s reading is equally convicting and confusing.

I appreciate the character of God in these passages—no matter how much I may think it, He’s not trying to make obeying His Word complicated, confusing, or tricky. And I actually don’t think that we’re supposed to try and figure out the perfect formula. So what’s the solution? I don’t fully know yet. Newness is often accompanied by some form of loss, even when it seems that the newness is straight from the Lord. So how do we talk about our grief when we know that, in part, it’s a result of the Lord choosing to move us into a new place?

I won’t speak for you. But for me, the Lord has brought me into a new phase of life, in more ways than one. And from my perspective, it feels emptier than some of the seasons before it. But maybe it really is better to be in a place that feels emptier if it means the Lord was the One who chose it. And while I don’t always talk about it well, in God’s kindness He used this story to convict me—a story I don’t think I’ll be able to forget now. And I pray that it continues to shape how I talk about the Lord and His work in my life.

Written by Hannah Little

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