Moses instructed Aaron: “Tell the whole company of Israel: ‘Come near to God. He’s heard your complaints.’” When Aaron gave out the instructions to the whole company of Israel, they turned to face the wilderness. And there it was: the Glory of God visible in the Cloud. God spoke to Moses, “I’ve listened to the complaints of the Israelites. Now tell them: ‘At dusk you will eat meat and at dawn you’ll eat your fill of bread; and you’ll realize that I am God, your God.’” – Exodus 16:9-12 (The Message)
The people of Israel have been complaining. It was only one chapter earlier when they stood on the banks of the Red Sea singing the victory song of Moses. It was only one chapter earlier when their cries of deliverance had been realized as they watched their oppressors drown in the bottom of the Sea. It was only one chapter earlier when they had witnessed God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm. They had personally experienced the power of God in their lives. Now, as they travel through the wilderness toward Sinai, they begin to complain. They complain because they have nothing to eat. “If only we had died in Egypt” they say. At least there we had plenty of food to eat. How quickly their memory changes. Just a few chapters earlier they were crying for deliverance, now they are wishing they could go back. How quickly they have forgotten what God has done for them. Did not God rescue them from Egyptian slavery? Did not God send the plagues and part the Sea? Is it not possible for the same God to act again to send food and water to the people in the wilderness?
Admittedly, being without food is something to complain about. It’s not enjoyable to be hungry. The community left Egypt in haste. There had not been enough time to pack food rations to last them for their entire journey. The further they marched into the wilderness the more difficult this problem became. It would be natural for the community to start complaining, and to direct their complaints toward Moses who led them into the wilderness. Or even to direct their complaints toward God. Why would any rational leader lead a community of people into the wilderness without considering how to feed them. It didn’t make sense. There was reason to complain.
It’s interesting how quickly we begin to complain when things don’t go our way. Life can be moving along nicely, but as soon as trouble comes, we cry foul and begin to complain. Someone is to blame for our troubles, a boss, another employee, the government, or even our spouse. Even if these people have nothing to do with it, we rationalize a way to blame others and complain about their short comings. Eventually, we realize there’s really only one person to blame for our mess, God. God, who is all-powerful and can move mountains could solve whatever problem we encounter in an instant if God chose to act. God is clearly not to be trusted, or so we assume.
What may be even more frustrating, at least to God, is how quickly we forget all that God has done. As soon as a crisis erupts, we seem to forget that God has moved in meaningful ways over and over again. God is constantly blessing us, providing for us, and protecting us from danger. Yet we seem to forget God’s blessings in the midst of the storm. When the crisis erupts we forget that God has been faithful in the past, and God will remain faithful into the future. God has not brought us this far to abandon us. God will provide.
Admittedly, there are times when we need to complain. Sometimes we are just tired and its the only way we can deal with our emotions. Sometimes there is no other response that we can make to the evil in the world except to complain to God for not ending the horror sooner. It’s alright if we need to complain sometimes. God is big enough to handle it, and God loves us enough to let us complain when we need to let off some steam. But in the midst of our complaining, let us not forget God’s provision. God is a Good God. God has provide for us in multiple ways. God’s blessings are all around us. And God will provide again so that we will come to know God better, and recognize that God is our God.