Mark R Lindsey

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Agony & Escape: Preferring death to suffering

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2020 at 7:41 am

“Give me relief – or give me death!” How do we cry to God in our agony without grumbling and doubting?

And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt [enslaved], when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” — Exodus 16:2-3

The Israelites were on a difficult mission, walking through the wilderness. But they were saying in their grumbling, “Keep me out of suffering, God! I’m ok if you let me die — just be sure I’m comfortable while I go.” They paint a picture of dying gently at the fireside with a full belly….as enslaved people. They weren’t asking for relief and help in God’s goodness — but for escape from the mission. “In fact, I’m so miserable, it’ll be ok if you just take me out of your mission entirely, God.”

As he gives us work, God calls us to suffering and discomfort. But don’t make like of the suffering. Don’t imagine you can endure on your own. Don’t believe your suffering goes unnoticed by God. Follow Jesus’s example: ask Him for relief, trusting he will act, expecting to see him do good for you.

Immediately after this complaint from the Israelites, their kind God gave them a supply of meat, and bread from heaven. Though they were insolent, God DOES care about suffering.

For he [the LORD God] has not despised or abhorred

the affliction of the afflicted,

and he has not hidden his face from him,

but has heard, when he cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;

my vows I will perform before those who fear him.

The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;

those who seek him shall praise the Lord!

May your hearts live forever!

— Psalms 22:24-26