The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not.
Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”
In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. ~ Exodus 16:2-4, 9-15
Since we are doing a sermon series at Grace and forgoing the lectionary for most of the remainder if the year, I thought it might be good to do it here instead for the devotions. So each week I will focus on the four readings that appear in our lectionary the previous Sunday.
At Grace, we had a portion of this passage not that long ago as part of our sermon series, "The Story of God." Pastor Krais talked about the way in which we complain (as did the Hebrew people), and look back nostalgically on things that were actually not all that great. And she talked about the wonder of a God who continues to show grace even in the midst of all that complaining.
Those are all wonderful ideas to focus on with this passage, so I wanted to continue in that vein, maybe instead as a challenge to dig a little deeper with some questions:
What have you complained about recently? Who did you complain to? What was their reaction? Did if affect your relationship with that person if you had one with them? What was the outcome? Looking back now, was it worth the complaining?
When is a time you've looked back at a past event with rose colored glasses? Maybe it was an old relationship, or a way we used to do things at church and don't any longer? Maybe it was a time in our country's history that seemed great at the time but digging deeper showed some fault lines? Maybe it was a period of your life that seemed more wonderful than it actually was?
When did you feel God's grace when you know - either then, or looking back - that you really didn't deserve it?
God of grace, open my eyes and heart to the love that surrounds me. Amen