READ: In SOLO, today, the message comes from Exodus 16 (verses 9-16). This is the story of Moses addressing the Israelites complaints about not having any meat in the wilderness. God told Moses to tell the Israelites: “I’ve listened to the complaints of the Israelites. Now tell them: ‘At dusk, you will eat meat and at dawn you’ll eat your fill of bread, and you’ll realize that I am God, your God.'” That evening the quail flew in and they had meat. Then, the next morning the manna fell from Heaven but, of course, the Israelites had no idea what it was. Then, Moses informed them that it was the bread God had given them to eat and that they were gather just enough for each person for the day (except for on the Sabbath).
THINK: This section challenges the reader to reread the passage, stopping to really ponder the emotions the Israelites might have been experiencing at the time: the neediness of complaining; the excitement of seeing the glory of God visible in the Cloud; the perplexity of seeing this strange bread from Heaven; and the satisfaction of having enough.
This part is intriguing. What does the neediness of complaining look like? Ha, well…this one I can answer. It looks like a gaping hole that will never be filled. But…what it feels like is another story. I’ve done my fair share of complaining. Sometimes, I felt mad; sometimes, lonely. But every time, I felt doubtful and distrustful. Every time, I either felt unloved or unlovable. But, what I never felt, any time I complained, was satisfied or satisfy-able.
The THINK passage goes on to encourage the us to contemplate what we would complain to God about right now (and then instructs us to do so). But then, it asks: “In what ways, if any, have you been perplexed by God’s response to your complaining? How might God have truly provided enough but you didn’t recognize it as God’s bread from heaven–exactly what you needed?”
Well…isn’t that hitting a bit below the belt? Over the past 3 years, I’ve had plenty to complain about. Some of it justified (in my mind) because the situation was unjust. But, most of what I’ve complained about stemmed from the fact that God did not meet my needs the way I wanted them met. Sure, God has provided for me. Sure, I’ve had plenty to be thankful for. But, why couldn’t it look the way I wanted it too? It seems that all my years of going to church had served to give me a good dose of “holier than thou” but not so healthy a dose of “true holiness” and even less gratitude. Naturally, I was thankful when things went my way. But…why wouldn’t they go my way, when I was being a “good girl”? After all, that is the way the world is supposed to work. Right? Right???
It seems I had forgotten the verses in the Bible that declare that, in this world, we will have suffering; and that if they hated/rejected Me (Jesus), they will hate/reject you. No…I was so busy focusing on the “all things work together for good for those that love the Lord” verses that I had neglected to remember all those pesky verses about suffering. And, I’m not even going to touch the passage about Jesus praying that “this cup” would pass from Him, nevertheless, Lord, Your Will be done. Those did not quite fit in with the doctrine I had developed for myself. As it turned out, I had been most of my reading out of the “Gospel according to Patty.” And now, my faulty thinking and false doctrine have come crashing down around my ears, and I have been left feeling like, God is surely not enough. Or, maybe I am just not worth what the Bible says I am. Either way, the end result has been the same. COMPLAINING. And a general state of DISSATISFACTION.
PRAY: With the above statement in mind, I move on to the PRAY section. In this passage, we are encouraged to formally complain to God about everything we want to complain about. (Fantastic, I say.) But, then, we are encouraged to ask God to show us precisely how He has provided for us, even though we might still wonder?!
Wonder about what? The passage doesn’t address that, but I have filled in some blanks for myself. If God is enough? If He has provided me with enough? If He actually loves me the way He says He does and will do for me what the Bible says He will do?
If I am honest, I have to admit that God has provided more-than-graciously over the course of our lives. And over the past 3 years, though it hasn’t looked the way I wanted it to, He has taken ample care of us. I have nothing to complain about. But, there’s still that nagging feeling like something might be missing, or like I might do something to make Him finally decide to throw in the towel. That’s where the “gaping hole that can never be filled” part comes in, and I am forced to deal with it.
If God has proven Himself, over and over and over again, why do I still have doubts? Why must I still be so much like Eve when that “Unfortunate Incident in the Garden” was so very many years ago?
LIVE: I will share this passage verbatim.
“Sit in the quiet and feel God’s “enoughness” in your body. Where do you feel it? In arms that are full? In a quiet mind? In a stomach that feels full? In muscles that work well? If you can really mean it, try delighting in this enoughness.
I think that part of my issue with asking for God to reveal Himself to me over these past 3 years has been that it felt so much like asking for yet another sign or wonder. Somewhere I got it in my head that praying that God would comfort me or show me how he had provided for me was surely a lack of faith. And after praying for a miracle intervention into our situation and being denied, I was having a hard time asking for anything at all. The one thing I was not having a hard time doing was complaining. Much like the Israelites, wandering in the wilderness, grumbling and complaining, I have been wandering through my own wilderness of self-pity and doubt, grumbling and complaining that God had abandoned me.
Desperate, I called out to God to reveal Himself to me. Not to do a miracle for me. But just to show me how He had been trying to reveal Himself to me, or take care of me, and how I had missed it. Then, I waited; sitting in the quiet, I just started listening. One day, during my devotional, I might read something that touched me. “Nice,” I would think. But then, just a few hours later, in class, somebody would say exactly that same thing, or expound on the thought that occurred to me after what I read. Then, another thought would occur to me, and somebody else would confirm that. By the end of the day, when I would sit down to type out my reflections for the day, everything that I had read or heard or thought would come spilling out onto the screen. All the dots would connect and I would be left sitting in my seat, stunned, by what God had done that day. My situation still hadn’t changed. But, God had answered my prayers, and that was fine. That was enough. And finally, I felt like I was being heard again. Like He cared enough to listen and answer my prayers again.
Until my situation does change, my prayer will remain: “Lord, move,” but so long as He continues to “move me,” I will keep plugging away. I will continue telling myself the truth about all the ways the Lord has provided for me. I will keep reminding myself that whether or not I feel like I am “enough” (good enough, pretty enough, lovely enough) has nothing to do with the fact that my God is enough and that He will do what He says He will do, and that it will, eventually, work out for my good. And I will keep reminding myself that “Enough truly is as good as a feast.”