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Be Careful What You Pray For

Tell the people: "Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, 'If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!' Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it."
Numbers 11:18, NIV

The Israelites are in exile, God has provided them escape from oppression and bread literally falls from heaven every night to feed them while they journey to the Promised Land. Yet they soon start to complain–forgetting all that God has done for them, forgetting their freedom, forgetting the miraculous provision of food and the daily signs that God is leading them and with them.

A very frustrated Moses comes to God in prayer: “These people are driving me crazy–you’ve given them freedom, but they’re whining about the fact they used to have garlic in Egypt. And fish and cucumbers and melon. It’s more than I can cope with!”
It’s such a small thing to be missing, when God has blessed them so richly. Yet the thing they really miss is meat! The families can’t stop complaining that there’s no meat.

God’s response to Moses is to answer the pleas of the Israelites and to give them meat. Yet the quail that land from heaven are two feet deep around the camp. The result? The people are quickly sick of meat because it’s all they eat for days.

How often it is that we are like the Israelites? We are given so many kind gifts by our Creator, but we long for things we used to have or things we see others enjoying. We are so quick to forget the many ways that God has provided for us in the past, and we neglect that Jesus has paved a way for us to spend eternity with God in a New Creation that is better than the Promised Land. Not just a land of milk and honey, but where all tears are wiped away, no death, pain or brokenness. And our eternal hope and home is there not because of anything we have ever done in our lives, but because of the extraordinary generosity of our Creator and Redeemer.

Let us pray:
Heavenly Father, we thank You for the many acts of goodness and provision we see in our lives. Help us to remember that everything we have is a gift of Your hands. Amen.
The Rev. Jane P. Ferguson
Associate for Liturgy, Student Ministries and Outreach
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