February 22: wait (Numbers 10-11; Psalm 27; Mark 1)

“Thank you for your patience.” I’ve heard those words countless times when I was expected to wait. My immediate thought to such words is “you have no idea how little patience I have right now.” Whining and complaining come easy when I am not getting what I want, when I want, how I want. If necessary, I will appeal to a higher authority. For me that means the store manager. For the Israelites, that meant Moses.

You would think the Israelites would have more patience and a lot more gratitude. For four hundred years they had been in Egypt – as slaves. Then one day they are given freedom. They experience the miraculous escape through the Red Sea, and what do they do? Within days of freedom, they are whining that life is too hard. They complain about now having enough to eat. So, God provides manna. After eleven months of being sustained in Sinai by eating manna, they head toward the Promised Land. And what do they do, but start whining about the manna that God provides. They want meat. So, God gives them meat – and a consequence of eating too much meat. They get sick.

Some days, I get tired or hungry or both. Something else in my day has not gone the way I wanted – and I whine. Usually to myself, sometimes to whomever is within the range of my voice, and I wonder what God hears.

The Israelites quickly focused on themselves, forgetting God’s promise. Did God exist for their purposes or did they exist for God’s purposes? Who gets to be God? I have discovered that when I get what I want I am not necessarily in a better place – not unless that place is God directed. The Israelites got what they wanted. It came with a cost – a very unpleasant one.

So, for today, I will carry with me the words from Psalm 27: I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

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