The following blog post is taken from the prayer letter of a friend of mine, who is serving as a missionary in South Asia. I appreciate the way that she draws life lessons from the experience of Israel, and that she applies it first to herself. I thought it was a good follow-up to my post about manna. It is shared here with her permission.
As I led the local church women’s Bible study last week, we studied Exodus chapter 16. We wondered why these Israelites grumbled so much because of food, water. Hadn’t they just seen God’s mighty miracles in Egypt? Hadn’t they witnessed how he killed the Egyptians’ firstborn, opened the Red Sea for them to cross, and drowned the Egyptian army? Hadn’t they just praised God joyfully after they crossed the Red Sea? Why did they so soon turn to grumble and complain against God because of food and water? Why did they want to go back to Egypt where they had been slaves?
But are we any better than they were? We too, often grumble when things do not go our way, when God does not give what we want, and when we encounter difficulties. Didn’t we experience God’s saving grace, his forgiveness, and his amazing love through his Son Jesus and his cross? Why then, do we (especially me) grumble so easily when things do not go our way? I think the core issue is that we, like Israelites, often live a self-centered life. We want God to ensure us a smooth and good life according to our standard. We worship him so he will provide everything we need and want, protect us against harm and misfortune, and bless us with success, good health, children, wealth, and long life.
In this way, we are using God as our “genie,” our mighty servant, instead of letting him be our God and Lord. We might also think that we know better than God does. So we want him to do everything for us in our way, not his way. We advise him, correct him, tell him what is the best for us, and when he does not do what we want, we complain and grumble against him. We are no better than the Israelites.
May God help us, especially me, know that he is the center of the universe, not us; and that we exist for him. We are to live for him and to glorify his name, not the other way around. May God help us live a God-centered life, trusting that he knows the best and that he will work out all things together for good to those who love him, ultimately to glorify his name (Rom 8:28-30). May God humble us and open our eyes to see our blind spots and enable us to know him more, and to truly glorify him in our daily lives.