This past weekend I heard a great message at church! The pastor spoke of the story of Moses when he led the Israelites out of Egypt. The Scripture Pastor Jeff Manion used was Numbers 11.
Numbers 11 (verses 1-10)
"Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when He heard them His anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them. The rabble with them began to crave other food , and again the Israelites started wailing and said, 'If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost - also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!' The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. The cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down. Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled."
The first thing the pastor encouraged us to do was to try to put ourselves in the place of the people in the Bible. It is easy for us to judge the Israelites response to their trials and say we would not react the same way. But if we were really honest with ourselves, wouldn’t we have responded similarly? I’m pretty sure I would be complaining along with the others if I had to eat manna for almost 2 years!
Next, the pastor raised some key thoughts. He reminded us that the “land between” (when we are in the middle of a trial) is fertile ground for complaint. But he then encouraged us with the thought that the “land between” is also the place to be transformed. Trials often cause us to push ourselves and thus, strengthen our faith as a result if we turn to God and allow Him to change us.
The key issue in this story is TRUST.
Trust is the glue that holds any relationship together.
Pastor Manion went on to say that we don’t always get to choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose our response – which is a choice of the heart. When we pass through a season of difficulty, we have choices. However, often we have been choosing the same choice for so long that it no longer feels like a choice.
During difficult times, the Bible instructs us to choose joy.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Lastly, he left us with a great piece of insight: Your trial is a greenhouse for your spiritual growth – the space you learn to pray.
So let us choose joy in the middle of our trials and invite God to transform our hearts. May we believe that God can redeem our situation, while trusting in His sovereignty, His desire to produce fruit in our lives, and know that He will fulfill His promises.
“Closer” – Shawn McDonald