What’s Beneath It All?

Things were bad, dire in fact. A line which separated life and death grew so slender at times I thought she was already gone. My forehead found a resting spot on my daughter’s still one, my cheek against hers. It was there my friend saw me as she entered the room. 

“Come on,” she said. “I’m taking you to lunch.” 

I didn’t really want food. I wanted a miracle. 

My friend looked sadly at the unmoving body of my daughter. Blown up with steroids, yet thin as an inmate, she hardly resembled the healthy twenty-six year old wife and mommy of only days before. Paralyzed by a brain stem mass, she was almost unrecognizable. 

“Be careful what you pray for,” my friend said softly.  

I knew what she meant, for while we begged for life, a question twisted inside us. Would not death be merciful in comparison to the nether-land prison in which she now dwelt?

Yet, her words, “be careful what you pray for,” disquieted me. 

Were my begging pleas like the Israelites in the Old Testament in their whining complaints? Did my request resemble theirs when they craved meat and disdained manna in the wilderness? Did He grow tired of my pleas? 

My daughter’s vibrancy, ready humor, boundless energy, all this I yearned for. I wanted all of it back. I wanted her again. 

“We remember the food we ate in Egypt,” God’s people groaned.   

  “…there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” (Numbers 11:4-6 ESV)

But, the Israelites had a deeper issue. 

Hebrews 3:16-17 exposes what really lay underneath. For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses?  So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.” ESV

Unbelief masquerades in complaints.

The Israelite’s cravings and grumbling uncovered a core of unbelief. It demonstrated they didn’t believe God was in control of the situation and their request despised the One offering to save them.

They complained not just because of the monotony of daily manna and a thousand ways to fix it, but because their cravings spawned from a desire for the pleasures of Egypt where they were once slaves.   

That yearning to go back disregarded God’s plan for them to move forward. Unbelief masquerades in complaints. Click To Tweet

They failed to see His Sovereignty in their place of struggle, in their need. They blamed others. They rebelled against their leaders. On the surface their complaint was the food, but the real well of distrust lay with God Himself, His ways, and His will.  

“Would that we had died in the land of Egypt. Why is the Lord bringing us into this land? Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2-4 ESV)

I am like the wilderness wanderers. 

I can forget to check what lies beneath. 

I too can fail to see God’s Sovereignty in my place of struggle. 

The difficult, unfair, and incomprehensible situations which bring criticism and discontent reveal in Whom my faith anchors. They strip me down to where my trust truly lies. 

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD your God.” Numbers 15:41 ESV

This is the belief which the Israelites spurned. 

Aren’t our lives shaped by similar choices? Every testing in life brings a choice to believe His will and ways are best, or to murmur and complain in unbelief. 

Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary’s cross broke the bondage of sin’s slavery. He offers forgiveness to all who believe. He provides eternal life. Why would we ever want to go back?  

The One Who bought me by His blood will carry me through my wildernesses.

That day, in a sterile hospital room, at a time in my life when questions found expression in a flood of tears, I came face to face with what lay beneath. I found no other choice but to trust a Good Father who knows no malice. He does what is right. He can do no less. I need not waver regardless of circumstances. He was in control then. He still is now. 

The outward uglinesses of our circumstances never define the inward beauty of God’s work.

The outward uglinesses of our circumstances never define the inward beauty of God’s work. Click To Tweet


26 Replies

  1. Nancy E. Head Reply

    Unbelief masquerades in complaints.



    Must ponder that. Amazing.

    • Sylvia schroeder Reply

      Nancy. Thanks. Ponder away and give me your after ponder wisdom! I just find for myself, complaining and blaming is pretty tied into my faith in God’ Sovereignty.

  2. Lois Snyder Reply

    Thanks Sylvia for these words of encouragement and wisdom. “The outward uglinesses of our circumstances never define the inward beauty of God’s work.”

  3. Sylvia schroeder Reply

    Thanks Lois. It is so difficult to see the beauty in the midst of a struggle, but faith assures us it’s there. I am not always making progress like I would like to in the midst!

  4. Charlotte Reply

    This reminds me of Ecclesiastes – “Do not say, ‘Why is it that the former days were better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this.”

    Maybe it’s because of what you said – “That yearning to go back disregarded God’s plan for them to move forward.” When a fond memory begins to have a bitter aftertaste, maybe I am doubting God’s goodness. Thanks for phrasing it in a fresh way.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Charlotte. I so appreciate your comment. I like the way you commented about the fond memory and bitter aftertaste. I hadn’t really thought of that in that way. But yes, I think you are right, I can see those instances in my life. Perhaps that is doubting God’s goodness, I need to chew on that too. I can relate. Thanks.

  5. Jeannie Waters Reply

    Thank you for helping me look into the root causes of complaint or discontentment. As always, your posts point us to Christ.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Jeannie. I also am looking at some roots! I am grateful for your encouragement.

  6. Penny Taylor Reply

    It is (not has been) a long season of disappointment. I find my heart grumbling (more than I care to admit). I don’t feel safe waiting on God to do what He may, or may not, do. I am frustrated I’m not understanding. Thank you for this blog post. I will be thinking on it more.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thank you Penny. I’m so sorry you’re in one of those long seasons. Waiting is very difficult and certainly it brings to mind C.S. Lewis about Aslan, He isn’t safe but He is good. Trusting God while not understanding what He is doing or knowing its outcome, is a difficult journey, and I know you know! Thank you for weighing in. May you find courage to trust Him fully regardless of what He chooses. Thanks so much for commenting. Great to hear from you.

  7. Brenda Griswold Reply

    Oh how I can relate! My complaining is definitely tied to my lack of faith at times. Your insight is such a blessing.

  8. Sharon Reply

    Very thot provoking.
    Thank you for being so vulnerable and sharing these things that are so dear to your heart.

  9. Katherine Pasour Reply

    “Every testing in life brings a choice to believe His will and ways are best, or to murmur and complain in unbelief.” This statement really spoke to me. At times, my attitude reflects this doubting of God’s plan, yet time and time again He shows me He is Lord. Like you, I never want to go back to that time of uncertainty. Our Father knows best and our Savior’s sacrifice proves His infinite love for us. Peace and blessings, my friend.

    • Sylvia schroeder Reply

      Katherine I always appreciate your thoughts. My attitude far too often displays lack of true trust. But this is also God’s grace to show me this. How could I grow otherwise!

  10. Sue Reply

    Thank you, thank you!

    • Sylvia schroeder Reply

      I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment! Thank you!

  11. Bob and Fritzie Strong Reply

    Your articles are so encouraging, thank you for writing them. Hope to see you at Homecoming!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      I am so honored you take the time to read and its so good to hear from you!

  12. Joyce Nelson Reply

    Lots to think about— thanks for sharing. Is you phone still the same. Would love to chat with you. JN

  13. Charla Matthews Reply

    “I too can fail to see God’s Sovereignty in my place of struggle.”

    Yes, Lord. It’s true. Sylvia, your words from real life minister to me. Thank you for allowing God to speak life.

  14. Don Pahl Reply

    I used your “outward uglinesses … inward beauty” quote as a guest speaker in Pretty Prairie on Sunday in summary of the life of Joseph. So very fitting!
    Thank you, Sylvia!