If you caught my “In the Office” reflection yesterday, you’ll remember that the people of Israel were last seen singing God’s praises for bringing them safely through the sea and drowning the Egyptian army behind them. But in today’s Old Testament lesson (Exodus 16:1-10) — which comes just nine verses and approximately 75 days later — they’re already starting to complain: “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” (verse 3).
At one level, of course, it’s easy to be critical of such a grumbling spirit. How could anybody be so quick to forget the Lord’s previous blessings and to jump to the question, “What have you done for me lately?” Certainly, we would never do something like that, would we? [And come on, now. Let’s pause for a moment of honest reflection.]
But I think the deeper dynamic that’s revealed by this passage is how difficult it is for us to trust in God’s future. We’re on our way to the Promised Land! And we’ve got all kinds of evidence that God is with us and plans to guide us and protect us and provide for us. But when the way gets hard — and when we struggle to imagine how God could ever bring good out of the situation in which we find ourselves — it often feels easier to do business with the devil you know than to rest in the promise of the God whose ways are sometimes beyond our knowing.
I find myself wondering this morning: In my life, the life of my family, and the life of my church — what are the ways in which I’m resisting God’s invitation to “Come further up. Come further in!” (as C. S. Lewis once put it) and plotting instead to “go back to Egypt”? Maybe that’s a question we should all ask from time to time.
May our promise-making God call you forward today, my friends. And even in your moments of need, may you discover that He is more than able to set a table in the wilderness.