Alternatives to Grumbling in the Wilderness
Written by Jina Yoo
As you might know, many of the women at Waypoint studied Exodus 1-18 this past spring. As I was reading, I couldn’t help but see the wilderness as a picture of our walk with the Lord as we are sojourning here on earth. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it has helped me think through how to respond to the challenges in life, on this side of the Promised Land.
In the book of Exodus, the Israelites are most commonly known for their grumbling. Although it’s easy to judge them for this, if we are honest with ourselves, most of us would admit to at least sometimes following their example. Instead of grumbling or quarreling with God, in the wilderness, I started to wonder how the Israelites should have responded to each challenge they faced. What response would have pleased God?
As I prayed, searched scripture, and spoke with others who were also studying this text, I came up with some alternatives to grumbling and tactics that could be useful when we are weary in the wilderness:
1. Abide! When there seems to be no water in the desert wilderness or no food when you are hungry, abide!
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”-John 15:4-5
“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’]”-Matthew 4:4
When Jesus was tested in the wilderness, he essentially said, I do not even need bread! I only need God! Our human bodies obviously need fuel to live but do we believe, without a doubt, that the Lord is enough? He can and will provide all that we need!
2. Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Do not lose sight of the goal- the Promised Land is near! We will not be in this wilderness forever.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”-Hebrews 12:1-3
3. Trust that the Shepherd is watching over you and He will guide you backto the living waters
“For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17
4. Stand firm, resist the devil, and flee! Remember that we are not only battling flesh and blood but spiritual forces.
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”-James 4:7
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”-Ephesians 6:12-13
5. Remember the Lord is a Mighty Warrior and He is fighting for us
“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”-Exodus 14:13-14
“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.”-Exodus 15:2-3
“The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one,he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him,and his own righteousness sustained him.He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head;”-Isaiah 59:15b-17a
When I think of the armor of God in Ephesians 6, I usually picture myself putting on the “belt of truth”, “breastplate of righteousness”, “shield of faith”, and so on. These passages in Exodus showed me that the Lord is the one who is leading the charge and bringing us to victory! He put on the armor first!
As I look back over this list, I am comforted that God has given us alternatives to fear and grumbling, and that all of these tactics are dependent on his goodness and power, not my own. May we be the type of people who choose to abide, trust, stand firm, and remember.