The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?” But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” – Exodus 17:1-3
The Israelites were very adept at grumbling…but to be fair so am I and I suspect I am not alone in this indulgence. We may grumble about different things, but I think most of us do it at one time or another — worship styles, music, programs, etc.; we as Christians can be a grumbling and quarreling lot. Why do we do it? I think for the same reason the Israelites did — memory problems. We fail to remember when God provided for us in the past so we lack the faith in God to care for us and provide for our community in the future.
Let’s face it our churches and gathering places are often full of imperfect traditions and sometimes messy Christian community. Just like the Israelites we often “want our water” and we want it now! We grumble and we sometimes pack up and move on to another church, denomination, or whatever. This must make God very sad and frustrated. God wants us to depend on Him to provide “water” in subtle and unexpected ways. Even when the water he is providing seems bitter, he will make things right in the end if we follow him.
When our first reaction to conflict or trouble (lack of water) is to grumble and quarrel we are in effect saying to God “I don’t trust you to provide for me in this situation”. This is putting God in a pretty small box…never a good idea. Conflict and adversity are not always a bad thing as long as we stay connected to God, have a servant posture, and remember that God always wins.
Prayer: God help me to resist the temptation to grumble and quarrel. Grant me the patience to wait for your provision and work through conflict with a servant’s heart and Your love.