Three days. That’s all it takes for God’s people to forget all about the parting of the Red Sea and the miraculous deliverance from the bondage of slavery in Egypt. After a brief celebration, Moses leads the people out into the wilderness of Shur, the desert region between Egypt and Palestine on the way to Mount Sinai.
Surrounded by sand, throats are dry and the Israelites are out of Dasani and Evian. So when they happen across water in the desert, they wonder at first if it’s just a mirage. But when they realize it’s real, they are utterly relieved and happy. That is, until they take their first sip and spit it out immediately. They subsequently name the place Marah, meaning bitter. Ironically, the name applies to more than just the water.
Somewhere along the way, God’s people picked up an attitude of unthankfulness. In fact, they’ve gone beyond ungrateful to a sense of entitlement, thinking they deserve a whole lot more than they’re getting. While just three days earlier Moses was as amazing as Superman, he is now reduced to “the idiot up front” as the people begin to whine, mutter, bleat, protest, make a fuss, fault-find, beef, snivel, raise a stink, kick up a fuss and question his every move.
Moses knows enough to take this straight to prayer and strange enough, God shows him a tree and tells him to toss it in the water. When he does, the waters instantly change from bitter to sweet.
Caught up in the midst of their bellyaching, the Israelites fail the surprise quiz from God. The very next place God leads them to has not one, but twelve completely undeserved wells to drink from with palm trees for shade. God is so much nicer than I would be if I were Him.
After whining and dining at the oasis, God’s people enter into the appropriately named wilderness of Sin, well into their second month in the desert. Unfortunately by this time, the “displease disease” has spread to the entire congregation.
Funny how it works. It takes just a handful of people to start complaining and before you know it, dissension has fanned the fire and before you know it, you have a church split on your hands. Or even worse, the disgruntled stay in the church, continuing to dis and grunt instead of being led.
In Exodus 16:3, in the performance of the season, Israel turns Drama Queen on Moses, accusing him of not only bringing them into the wilderness to die, but to actually kill them with hunger (oh brother). Like a nervous waiter, Moses takes their order and rushes it into the kitchen. Surprisingly, God cooks up an idea and rains down bread from heaven to satisfy their hunger.
Something like Honeynut Cheerios actually fall from the sky. And it even tastes good. Plus, it’s organic. If it were boxed, they would have to pay a lot of money for it at Whole Foods. But despite God’s miraculous provision, they still aren’t happy.
Years of living in Egypt molded a highly destructive mindset that would not be easily changed. Although they had to bust their butts for the king as mere slaves, apparently prison food wasn’t all that bad as they recall. After the excitement of manna wears off, their minds and stomachs slowly wander back to good times in Egypt.
By this time, Moses has had it with the people. Just like your Mom when you ask her for the 15th time if you can have a cookie before dinner, Moses loses it. He cries out to the Lord for the umpteenth time as the people get ready to stone him. Moses is ready to retire. If this were Whine Library TV, he’s done his absolute last taste test.
How do you react when things don’t go the way you thought they would? Are you content with what you have, even though you don’t have everything you want? Or do you feel you deserve better?
How’s your thankfulness on a scale of 1 to 10? Do you have a list of things you’re grateful for and do you review your gratitude list often? Attitude is the one thing that affects every area of your life. You can be thankful or you can act like a spoiled brat. The good thing is, it’s up to you.