Perhaps you know someone who never seems to be happy. When I met Olga, she and her husband had a successful small business and four healthy children. Olga had been forced to leave East Germany as a refugee after World War II. For her, nothing in her new life was ever as good as it had been in Germany. While her complaining frustrated me, I also felt sorry for her.
In the Exodus story, the Israelites leave a life of oppression in Egypt, hoping to arrive in the land that had been promised to their ancestors, a land they had never seen. But each step takes them further away from the known and deeper into the unknown desert. Even though God has persistently guided the people and provided for their needs, fear and doubt set in. Suddenly all they remember about Egypt is that they had good water there. (verse 3)
The people challenge God, asking, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (verse 7) God doesn’t react, but simply continues to provide for the needs of the people. (verse 6) God’s response continues to be compassionate and nurturing.
Compassionate God, you understand our fears and complaints, and love us anyway. Thank you for your persistent care. Amen. — JN