Monday, October 3, 2016

Are You Singing or Sulking?

In Exodus 15, the first twenty-one verses outline a song of praise and victory from Moses and the children of Israel. God had just delivered them through the Red Sea and from the hand of the Egyptian army, and needless to say, the people had reason to rejoice. So, for twenty-one verses they lift up their voice in praise, thanking God for who He is and what He is capable of doing. The song is specific, thorough and heartfelt, and though I don't have the time or space to type out the entire song here, I would like to share with you verse two: The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.  Keep this verse in mind because we will come back to it in a minute.

Now, I want you to take a look at what happens in the next few verses. So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? (vs. 22-24)

Three days! Within three days, the miracle of the Red Sea had been forgotten. The praises of God had been replaced with murmurs and complaints. In fact, it's safe to say that the water wasn't the only thing that was bitter that day. There were a lot of bitter attitudes as well. What happened? What could have possibly changed so much in three days that their singing turned into sulking?

For starters, their circumstances changed. No longer were they standing on the edge of victory, but they were wandering around in a desert of defeat and despair. Secondly, their attitudes changed. Where earlier they had been full of joy and relief at their deliverance from Egypt, now all they could focus on was their hunger, thirst and fatigue. But do you realize what didn't change? God did not change. The God who delivered them safely across the Red Sea was the same God who was leading them in the wilderness. The God to whom they sang praise and honor and worship was still just as deserving of their song. Though their circumstances and attitudes had changed, God was still God, and as they stated in their own song, He was still their strength, their song and their salvation. How quickly they had forgotten.

But I'm afraid we have no right to judge, for we often do the same thing. When things are going well and we're walking in victory, it's easy to praise God and thank Him for who He is and all He's done. But after a few days in the wilderness, when our circumstances have changed, our attitudes grow bitter just like the waters of Marah. We forget all about our victory. We lose track of our song. And it seems all we can focus on is what's wrong in our lives instead of remembering all the things that God has brought us through in the past. We concentrate on the things in our lives that are ever-changing instead of focusing on the One who never changes. And then, like the children of Israel, we begin to murmur.

Are you wandering in the wilderness today? Does victory seem far from your grasp? Are defeat and despair bearing down on you? If so, may I remind you that this too will pass. Your circumstances and negative feelings are not here to stay. They will shift and change as an autumn leaf on a windy day, so don't put too much stock in them. Instead, I urge you to focus on the One who never changes. He was faithful yesterday, and He will be faithful again today. He has seen you through the tough times, and He's not about to forsake you now. Hang in there, and whatever you do, don't lose your song!
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