Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn't it be better for us to go back to Egypt?" And they said to each other, "We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt." Numbers 14:3-4
When we’re in a situation, we tend to focus on all of the negative things and forget the good things. When we’re out of the situation, the good things tend to stand out and the bad things tend to fade away. This isn’t 100 percent. There are some circumstances that are so horrific that the bad things will never fade away. But, in general, we focus on the current bad and the previous good.
This was the case with the Israelites. They were not reflecting on the bondage of slavery and the horrors of forced labor in Egypt. Their current peril erased the beatings and the cruelty. After all, the Egyptians wanted them to survive. Dead slaves were of no use to anyone.
Their greatest enemy was fear. They were following God’s direction through Moses, but they were facing the unknown. That’s scary for anybody. It was scary to the point that fear of the Egyptians seemed like a welcome relief.
God doesn’t lead us to safe places. He pushes, sometimes shoves us out of our comfort zones. Often we long for the comfort of bad habits, bad relationships, harmful addictions, or even negative thought patterns, because even though it’s bad, at least we know what we have. In some twisted way, we have decided that even bad things are safe when they are familiar.
But, what’s scarier, moving forward with God or retreating backward without God? I’m not saying that God will abandon you. He has promised not to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). When we retreat into our old ways, we are embracing dependence on ourselves and rejecting dependence on God. When we move forward, we feel out of control, because we are. The unfamiliar causes a greater dependence on God.
The unfamiliar appears in many ways. It’s not necessarily a change in our surroundings or our relationships. Moving forward is changing our outlook, changing our attitude, or making positive changes in our relationships. We might think “You know, it would be easier if I just stayed grumpy, because then people avoid me. If I become friendly and they hang around, I don’t know what to do with them.” “If I offer forgiveness more quickly, won’t that just reinforce their bad behavior.” “If I think more positively about my job and avoid the negativity of others, will my friends think that I’ve sold out?”
Change is scary. But, if you think about it, so is staying the same.
What change do you fear today? What do you feel like giving up on? What from your past is starting to sound good again? Ask God to help you through this desert time. He will.
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