It’s been longer than usual since my last post. I’ve moved, gone on retreat, and been without my car and the computer I worked on, so though there has been plenty to say, there hasn’t been much of a chance to say it. The past week has been one of much learning and much love, amongst what might, from the outside, seem to be…unpleasant. Annywoot, I’ve got to admit that during this time, my endurance has waned. At many times I’ve been tempted to despair, though never able to cry, at the hurt and inconsistency of mankind. I feel a lot… well a lot like Moses felt in the following story. This is an except from Becca Harris’ outline of what we’re learning in gradeschool this week, and it reminds me that all of life is repentance, and that it is not just folly to despair, it is a bad example, and it’s sin. Just read what Becca wrote, she’s better at this than I.
Virtue: Patience—trusting God for what to provide and when to provide it.
Bible Story:Moses Strikes the Rock • Numbers 20:1-13
Bottom Line: Believing God will help me be patient with people.
We have already learned about a time when the Israelites did not get what they wanted and they complained against Moses and Aaron about it. You would think that the Israelites would remember that God is in control and that He is leading them and will take care of them by now, but they had not. (I have not learned this lesson either!) So they come to Kadesh and there is no water and they complain and grumble against Moses. Moses and his brother go and pray to God asking what to do and God tells them to speak to the rock and He will cause water to flow.
All seems normal, until Moses gets out in front of everyone, he loses his cool. Perhaps he is just tired of them complaining (after all this had been going on for YEARS!!!) or perhaps is was spurred on in part by the grief Moses was suffering with the death of his sister. But in any case, he yells at them calling them rebels (which is true, but not how Moses normally speaks to his people) and then he strikes the rock. He hits it rather than speaking to it like was commanded. The people get their water, but the Lord immediately has a pow wow with Moses. Moses gets punished for not believing in God and holding Him up as holy. And is forbidden to go into the promised land, something he had worked so hard to lead his people to.
Wait, how can God say that Moses did not believe in Him? After all, look at how Moses had followed God. But in that moment that Moses struck the rock, his anger showed a few things. He had forgotten who was in charge (God, not Moses). He had forgotten that God had a plan and that He could take care of things. This was something that Israel needed to be reminded of over and over again. So when Moses lost his cool with the Israelites, his frustration with them also showed his frustration with God. God punishes Moses for not pointing the Israelites to trust in God to provide but for getting angry and taking it out on them. God did not tolerate this.
If we are honest, many of us have felt like Moses before. We not be leading a million complaining people, but it may feel like it at times. Have you ever been frustrated with someone before? You just want them to hurry up and do ________. Or you want them to hurry up and quit doing ___________. It can be easy to get frustrated with people, especially when they do not work or think the same way we do. Being patient with people can be hard, even when we know God has a plan. Sometimes we need to take a step back and look at a few things in order to be patient with people.
We need to remember that God has a plan and that even this person who is hard to get along with or who drives us crazy, is part of His plan.
We need to think about how patience God has been with us. Think about all the times we have not done what God wanted. And he has been patient with us through all of our mess ups. He loves us so much!
So what right do we have to be impatient or get frustrated with other people? When we feel frustrated or impatient, it is a good time for us to stop and remember that God is in control and knows all that is going on. And we might just need to take some time to think about how patient God has been with us and ask him to be just as patient with other people. When we show patience towards others we are showing them how God loves them. If we lose our cool, that is not a picture of how God has loved us and it is a good time for us to take some time to remember.