“…They did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power”. Psalm 78:22
Have you come to a place in your life where you felt God has let you down? You followed God only to find yourself in trouble. Sometimes in these kinds of places, our tendency is to put God on trial in our hearts. The trouble is we are disappointed with where we are and how things are working out.
Countless number of people have judged God in their hearts and found him guilty. Some turn their back on God and move on, while others hold on to their anger inwardly and remain mad for years. Many others become disillusioned with God because their experience does not match their understanding of who God is.
The Israelite came to such a place in their wilderness journey. In Exodus chapter 17, we see the Israelites camped at a place called Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses and said, “Gives us water to drink”. The Reformation Bible highlights that the word quarreled is the translation of the Hebrew word “rib”. Rib is often used in legal contexts with the meaning “to bring suit”. The people are accusing Moses of bringing them out of Egypt to kill them with thirst. What is astonishing is what God instructs Moses to do.
In Exodus chapter 17:5 we read…”the Lord said to Moses “…take with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile…v.6 I will stand before you there on the Rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the Rock, and water shall come out of it”.
This is one of the most amazing verses in the Bible. The Israelites put God on trial, and God took the guilty place, and allowed himself to become condemned.
The Israelites were accusing God of bringing them into this place to kill them with thirst. They looked at their circumstances and concluded, since there is no water here, and we can’t see how we can find water in this desert, then God must have bad intentions toward us. He has brought us here to kill us with thirst.
Why did the Israelites come to this conclusion? It is easy for us to become distorted when we don’t have a knowledge of God and his ways. Psalm 95:8-11 sheds some light on their problem. We read in V.10…”they are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways”. Also in Psalm 78:22 we read “because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power”.
In our previous two posts, we examined two other places that the Lord brought them into. What can we learn from these places in the wilderness in regard to God and his ways?
- God brings us to hard places in life, to press us down (“to humble us”). In these places, God reveals us to ourselves (“to see what was in your heart”). When we see things in our lives that are not good we should never let these things bring us to despair. Rather we should allow these failures to humble us before God and to lift him up in our eyes, since He choose us before the foundation of the world knowing what we will do from the beginning to the end. God will bring us to hard places in life. This is His way.
- These hard places in life are meant to bring us to dependence on him. When we understand that we truly need God to help us out of these situations, then these places have served their purpose. But we typically think that the best life is one where there are no difficulties. In reality, these hardships make us to become “good” people who exhibit God like qualities. The way we judge a life is based on what we have done. But the way God judges a life is based on who we become. By walking with God through these difficult places we become the right kind of people.
- Finally we need to see all of life from God’s point of view. Don’t expect an easy life with God, expect some level of difficulty for the purpose of transformation. Don’t expect God to immediately deliver you, but rather expect God to offer himself in difficult places. Above all, remain steadfast on the goodness of God and allow situations to take their course.
We should go through things with complete reliance on God. It is this trust and faith in the goodness of God that anchors us during the storms of life. Learn to praise God for whatever comes into your life.
May the Lord be with you all.