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.
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