Allow me to share with you a part of the song they sang in praise to God right after they crossed the Red Sea:
“11 Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders?
12 You stretched out Your right hand;
The earth swallowed them.
13 You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed;
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation."
That happened before all the bad/sad stuff we have been looking at the last few days. How could they praise Him so highly and then accuse Him of taking them into the desert to die?
The truth is that following that group from Egypt to Canaan is like riding a roller coaster. They are up, way up. Then they go down, way down. God is the best and then He is the worst.
There is a clue in their song of praise above. They sang "Who is like you O Lord among gods...?" Lord among gods? What gods? Don't they know there is only one God? Apparently not.
Paul's warning to Corinth was simple: "When you think you have the world by the tail watch out, or you will flop on your face."
Again why? How could they go so quickly from praising to murmuring, from dancing to cursing? Do we do that? Yes we do and here is the answer to why. It's going to be hard to hear but it's the truth and Jesus said the truth will set us free.
People that go up and down like a roller coaster between faith and despair are people who worship their circumstances rather than worshipping God. Ouch. When times are good we are happy with God and when times are tough we turn on Him like a raging bull. When times are good we throw Him a thank you and go back to life as usual. He may not hear from us for weeks or months or... but when a crisis comes His phone never stops ringing. We ask Him where He is. We accuse Him of abandoning us. We of course don't really want Him. We just want Him to right the ship of our circumstances so we can go back to what we were doing. Ouch.
It's easy to feel invincible when all is going as planned and there isn't a cloud in sight. People admire us. Boss promotes us. Friends are drawn to us. Life is good. Watch out says Paul. The Israelites were riding high, singing and dancing and bragging about their God. Three days later they turned on Him like a pack of wolves on a wounded deer. That's right. 3 days. 72 hours. Mountain top to the depths of despair. Want a quote?
"And the people complained..."
There is a better way to live. There is a more authentic way to worship. It won't make the headlines. It may not draw a crowd. At times people may even pity or mock you for being a fool. However none of that can rob you of the "peace that passes understanding."
Do you know what the peace that passes understanding is? It's peace that is unaffected by circumstances. It's an Outlook that doesn't lurch from crisis to crisis or swing from mountain tops to dark valleys.
Have you ever grown a garden? Ever grown a garden in a dry summer? The leaves wilt or burn or both. Nothing thrives. Little or nothing is produced. Some plants even die. Did you ever notice that while your garden suffers the trees are fine? Do you know why? Gardens grow on the surface. Their roots are shallow. Too little rain and they die. Too much rain and they drown. Circumstances are everything. Trees are a different story. They don't drown when it rains too much and they don't wilt when it doesn't rain enough. They have deep roots. Roots that are fed by a source unaffected by the ups and downs on the surface.
So how is it with us? Are we rooted in God or in the shallow ebb and flow of life? Those rooted in God know it won't always rain just the right amount. Sometimes it won't rain at all. Jesus said "In this world you will have trouble..." Truth. It's much better than the empty sentimental rooted in nothing platitudes of "Everything will be ok." No sometimes nothing will be ok. Sometimes your best friends will deny they even know you. Sometimes the people who stood beside you singing God's praises will turn around and m stab you in the back. Sometimes your best friend will die too soon and your other friends will ask "Where is your mighty God now?"
All of that and worse happened to Jesus. How did He react? He said "Father forgive them, they don't know..."