Note: Each Thursday, I'll be looking at one of the lectionary passages for the upcoming Sunday. Today, we're looking at Exodus 16:2-15.
That's how long it took the people of Israel to throw in the towel on their freedom. Exodus 14 is the majestic, epic, do-you-remember-when-the-lighting-flashed-and-you-saw-a-WHALE-in-Prince-of-Egypt? parting of the sea. Exodus 15 is this awesome musical number praising God for the parting of the sea followed by God miraculously turning sweet the bitter, undrinkable water of Marah. Exodus 16: Why didn't God kill us? It was so much better when we were slaves.
Okay, sure, a chapter is not an accurate measurement of time. The text tells us that this complaining occurred on the fifteenth day of the second month after they left Egypt. So it's more like six weeks. Still: six weeks! There are middle school relationships that last longer than than six weeks!
The people of Israel witnessed the defining miracle of the Old Testament and then six weeks later they're saying it would have been better if they were dead or still slaves. Sheesh, how quickly they forget.
Yet how quickly we forget.
I can forget in a hurry the ways in which God has helped me, blessed me, and proven to be true. I believe many of us do. We are so tightly tied into the now. If things are not going according to plan right now then God has obviously forgotten about us or is asleep at the wheel. We don't remember what God has done for us in the past. We don't remember those former difficult nows after which God proved faithful again. We stumble around like a bunch of perpetual amnesiacs; forgetting left and right all that God has done.
And you would think that God would lose patience and throw up those anthropomorphic hands and say: "I saved you last Tuesday! And, you! Remember how that sunset reminded you of Me eleven hours ago! That's it, I'm done! God out!" Yet God does not do that. God did not do that. God proved to be faithful and provided for the people of Israel in the wilderness in spite of their complaining.
Granted the moral of the story is not: complain and God will give you what you want. That's not how it works. But the text demonstrates again that God is so much better than we deserve. On our end, we would do better to remember. Throughout the Old Testament, the people of Israel are implored to remember what great things God has done. We must do the same and hold on to those memories dearly.
So remember in any way that you can: write them down, pen a song, put paint to canvas, tell a friend. Do whatever you can to not forget. We are a people with a fickle memory. How much better would it be for us, how much better would it be for those around us if we would just remember the great love of God when the days grow difficult?