TO CHEW ON: "And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." Deuteronomy 8:2
If you want to discover your grumpiness, irritability, and general unpleasantness potential, put yourself under stress. For me, even something as ordinary as camping in the rain with little kids was enough to expose impatience and short-temper just under the thin veneer of pleasantness and longsuffering.
I often ask myself, when I watch people on the news as they react to natural disasters—how would I do in that situation? It's the same with stories of the Exodus in the Bible. Though it's easy to be condemning of the Israelites as they make their grumbling way through the desert, I wonder, would I have been any different?
In our reading today, Moses, in a farewell message to the Israelites, explains the why behind God's dealings with them. Their hardship, hunger, and thirst show them how helpless they are on their own and how much they need God. The way their clothes don't wear out and their feet don't swell show them they can trust God for the most practical, down-to-earth details. Their testing is never arbitrary or random but for a purpose, to show them how much they need God and to strengthen character in them. It is to build a people who, even when the stress is off, will remember the origins of their supply and good fortune.
We may be dismayed at how difficulties show us up as selfish, fearful, impatient etc. At such times it's easy to get discouraged with our many immaturities. But we mustn't stay down on ourselves too long. For such self-revelations are also positive:
- They give us glimpses of who we really are.
- They keep us from being proud and judgmental of others.
- They throw us on God. We can ask Him to help us understand the roots of our reactions. We can go to Him for daily spiritual nourishment, just like the Israelites went out to gather manna six days a week. In this way our difficulties will help us change. They will "do you good in the end" - Deuteronomy 8:16.
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me understand the roots of my irritability, impatience, worry — all the things that show up in me when I'm under stress. Help me to deal with them in a way that will build character and trust in You. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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