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Lent 2011

God's Faithful Provision in the Midst of Most Human Complaints

Day 16

By Beatrice Fofanah

The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 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."

—Exodus 16:1-8

We worry, we complain about almost everything. Mamakoh, now in her 20s, was among those who were all locked up in a house that was set ablaze by the rebels during the rebel war in Sierra Leone. By God's grace, Mamakoh escaped with no trace of burn. The rest of her family all perished in the fire.

Mamakoh was later picked up from a refugee camp by a United Methodist Woman member who took her to be part of her family. She was sent to one of the Skills Training Centers owned by United Methodist Women and funded by the Women's Division. She graduated having acquired some skills, and she now owns a small business of her own with which she helps her husband care for their two children.

Did the Israelites really think God would rescue them from slavery and perform many miracles to help them escape from Pharaoh and his army to let them die in the desert?

Yet any time you meet Mamakoh she is full of complaints, complaints about almost everything, blaming people for her present condition, which is by far better than the hundreds who lost their lives, who had limbs amputated. Does Mamakoh not trust the God who has brought her thus far?

Our reading for today's meditation is very similar. The Israelites again encountered danger, shortage of food and water and they complained bitterly. Did the Israelites really think God would rescue them from slavery and perform many miracles to help them escape from Pharaoh and his army to let them die in the desert?

Indeed difficult circumstances often lead to stress, and complaining is a natural response. So we don't need to condemn the Israelites. Rather let us search our lives.

So many times we find ourselves complaining: How am I going to do this? How are we going to pay our rent? How are we going to get support for our projects? Why is God doing this to me? We, like the Israelites, operate on a short-term memory.

If we would only think of all the times God has been there for us in the past. How God faithfully provides for us anyway. If Mamakoh in our story could only think of the time God saved her from death, the help she received from the United Methodist Women that has made a difference in her life. God was always there for her. God's gracious provision will always be there for us as we go through the wilderness period of our lives.

So many times we are faced with challenges that often turned into God's blessings for us. As we go through this Lenten period, let us try to focus on the goodies we have received from God. Jesus Christ suffered all he did for us. When things come up to test our faith, we need to remember what God has done for us. God did not spare his son but sent Jesus to die for our sins. That same God will never leave or forsake us. God has provided us with all the resources we need—air, water, fish, animals, food, and instead of tapping on those resources we complain.

When next you are tempted to complain, just think of the words of one of my favorite songs, "It Is Well With My Soul." Sing it with meaning, and remember the man who wrote it after he had his four daughters drowned at sea. When next your faith is tempted, remember all that God has done for you and say all is well.


Gracious God, when we are faced with challenges, help us remember our blessings. Remind us that you are with us in the wilderness. Amen.

Beatrice Fofanah is the Women's Coordinator for United Methodist Women's Organization, Sierra Leone Annual Conference, United Methodist Church and president of the West Africa Central Conference Women's Network.

Last Updated: 04/16/2014

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