The Hebrew’s exodus out of Egypt is a very well-known Bible story. It makes for a great cast of characters in children’s Sunday School class or any drama presentation: A powerful Pharaoh, an adopted son-turned-enemy, and an enslaved people… all lend to an amazing narrative.
But those of us familiar with the history know that those very same freed people were not such great travelers. It’s not a surprise that the first mention of grumbling in the Bible appears in the book of Exodus (even though I’m pretty sure Adam and Eve did their share of complaining after their little snack in the garden, nothing is recorded about their discontent).
“But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left”. (Exodus 14:29) Can God get any more REAL? The Hebrew people had seen wonders, they had seen God.
They saw God when Moses rescued them from 400 years of slavery. (Exodus 3:10-12)
They saw God as He guided the Hebrews around in that unfamiliar territory with a cloud by day and a fire by night. (Exodus 13:21)
They saw God dry up the Red Sea and allow for their miraculous crossing. The Pharaoh and his army weren’t so lucky. (Exodus 14:27-29)
And as the people stepped onto dry ground, they were ecstatic and they danced and sang songs to the Lord. They recognized God’s control and gave Him praise. (Exodus 15:1-21)
However…. almost before the water was dry between their toes, there was some grumbling. It most likely began with one or two, spread to a few, and before he knew what happened, the whole crowd was yelling at Moses, “We need water to drink; this water is bitter! We need food to eat! Did you bring us out here to kill us? We should have just died in Egypt!” (Exodus 16:1-7)
We read that story, and we are shocked: ‘Seriously? How can those people be so spoiled. So forgetful. So disrespectful. So ungrateful.’
They had been given so much. God was taking care of them. Yes, they needed food and water, but surely they knew God wouldn’t bring them this far only to let them die. He would provide.
Trust? Faith? Nope, grumble, grumble, grumble.
Wait. What? Am I any different? I have a house, food, water, clothes, and so much more. I am blessed. God has been faithful. Yet I grumble because I have to load a dishwasher, yet those very dishes are proof that I have food. I complain about the laundry, yet those are the clothes that keep me warm. I don’t like dusting my sturdy, lovely furniture. I whine because I have appointments conflicting on my calendar — I have to choose between two good friends!
No, I am no different.
I am that people.
I am so spoiled. So forgetful. So disrespectful. So ungrateful.
“…your grumblings are not against us but against the Lord.” (Exodus 16: 8)
When I protest to my husband, my children, or my friend, it is a complaint that God hears loud and clear, and takes personally. I am talking directly to Him — the Giver of all that I have. Whew. That’s pretty heavy stuff.
I’m so glad I’m living under God’s grace, and that He is always willing to forgive. I’m thankful He’s given us His word, and placed stories within those pages that speak to us and teach us His ways. We fail sometimes, yes, but we have His Spirit available to us, to help us be gracious and thankful.
The idea that grumbling is the opposite of trust has just started to resonate with me. And I’ve bitten my tongue more than once today, and then offered up a prayer, ” I know You’ve got this. Thank you for what You are doing in this situation.”