The read through the Bible in a year scriptures for today are: Numbers 19:1-20:29; Luke 1:1-25; Psalm 56:1-13; and Proverbs 11:8. This devotional focuses on a small portion of the reading in Numbers and the Psalm.
As I read the passages for today, I was struck by the Children of Israel and the question they asked Moses and Aaron. When they saw that there was no water, they immediately complained, “Why did you bring us to this terrible place?” Rather than ask God to meet their need, they complained and asked why.
How often do we do the same thing with God? We see our circumstances and we demand to know why.
There are different kinds of whys. For example, our child might ask us, “Why do the stars look like they’re sparkling?” Or a student might ask a teacher, “Why is my answer wrong?” These whys are asked out of curiosity and a desire to learn. But when we ask God why in the manner that the children of Israel questioned Moses and Aaron, we are really questioning God’s authority and plan for our lives. It’s the same as a recent question from my youngest daughter when I asked her to clean her room. “Why do we have to pick up our rooms all the time?”
I gave her the standard answer that kids hate to hear; “Because I said so!” This wasn’t a teachable moment when she wanted to learn the importance of room cleaning. It was a challenge to my authority as her mother.
I am guilty of questioning God in this same manner. I distinctly remember a day several years ago when I was really angry. My husband had been suffering with kidney failure and dialysis for a few years. I was at my wit’s end. I was alone in the bedroom, shaking in tears and rage. I literally shook my fist towards the heavens and screamed, “Why God? Why don’t you do something?”
I didn’t really want to know why, and I wasn’t willing to accept anything from God but what I wanted. I was throwing an adult-sized temper tantrum, and let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. God remained silent at that moment, but later as my husband and I shared our emotions over his health struggles, I remember him saying, “God is not a vending machine where we can just push a button and get a candy bar.” That thought really stuck with me, and I knew then that my attitude needed adjusting.
God knew that the Children of Israel needed water, and he already had a plan for meeting that need. When Moses and Aaron bowed before him, the answer came, and water was supplied.
Contrast this with the words of David in Psalm 56. This Psalm was written during a time of trial in David’s life. The Philistines had captured him and he was crying out to God for help. Rather than shaking his fist and screaming, “Why did you let these Philistines seize me?” he said “… when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” And later he said, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Wow! Did you get that? Read it again. God keeps track of each one of our tears. I don’t know about you, but I’ve cried a lot of tears in my life. When I read that God keeps track of each one, I can’t help but blink back a few more.
The next time you face a trial what will your response be? Will you shake your fist and demand that God explain himself to you, or will you be like David and say, “Even though I don’t understand, I will trust in you?”