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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, September 13, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Exodus 16:2–15

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. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but” against the Lord. 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. (NRSV)

“The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.”

My guess is that we can all relate with the Israelites right now. They had escaped Egypt and the dangers that existed there, but rather than feeling grateful, they are complaining to God and their leaders. The Israelites were in an unknown land, unsure of where meals will come from and probably feeling pretty scared.

Do you feel like we are in an unknown land? I sure do. Back in mid-March, our world changed as we know it. Our daily routines abruptly stopped. Dinners with friends and playdates for kids were canceled. We are dealing with frustratingly slow Internet, doing cartwheels when walking down the sidewalk to avoid other people, and we daily run in a race to find antibacterial wipes before they sell out. Thankfully, we do have grocery and restaurant delivery, FaceTime calls, and Netflix to help make our time in the “wilderness” a bit more palatable. Despite these luxuries, I find myself complaining a lot. I complain to my family, my friends, and to God. I long for what life used to look like for us at church, work, and school.

Despite all of the complaining and grumbling, God provided manna and quail for the Israelites. They may not have known what their journey was going to look like, but they had faith in God. Their lives probably felt like chaos (much like ours do right now), but God is kind, all-loving, and full of grace. As we push on through the chaos, let us remember that God will provide.

God, full of grace, forgive me for my grumbling and complaining. I am grateful to be blessed with your love and all that you provide. Help me to remember that you are with me always, especially during difficult times. Amen.

Written by Briana Belding-Peck, Family Ministry Coordinator

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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