Finding God in the "Things That Bite You"
Am I the only one who reads the story of the people of Moses and thinks, why did they have to spend those wasted years in the wilderness?? Hadn't they been through enough already, first as slaves, and then to leave everything they'd ever known behind? Why didn't God just take them right to the promised land? Why the pestilence, the manna for 40 years, the daily struggle and the monotony?
Apparently the children of Israel asked the same question, many times in fact.
Some became so exasperated that they went so far as to curse God and Moses. God's response to this was to send fiery serpents which bit and killed many of them. This caused the people to humble themselves and come to Moses for help, and Moses then went to God. In response, God told Moses to make a fiery serpent, set it on a pole, and have the people look on it, promising that whoever looked would live. (Numbers 21:8-9)
At first glance the request seems strange. I can hear some of the people saying, "Wait you're telling me that I have to look on the very serpent that bit me, or killed some of my friends and family?!" God asked the people to look upon the very thing that bit them. However even as I was thinking about this, the symbolism seemed to jump right off the page and into my heart. In order for us to be spiritually healed we must find God in the very things that bite us.
In all their years of wandering what the children of Israel apparently missed was that the things that bit them—the pain, the years in the wilderness, the affliction, and the monotony—were the very things that God was trying to use to prepare them to enter the promised land.
Had they used those experiences to turn to God and trust Him, perhaps the journey wouldn't have taken so long?
Likewise our trials, and even the daily monotony of our own wilderness journey, are what chip away at our rough edges and prepare us for the happiness God has for us. Trials are our personalized fitness plan to get us in shape for the kingdom, and our evidence that God knows and loves us enough to give us what will help us change and grow.
The associated warning is that as long as we don't embrace our trials, and instead curse God in them, we will never make it. Like the children of Israel, we will continue to spin spiritual circles and wander for years, never getting closer to what God has promised for us.
Look to Him, and find Him even in the things that are biting you, and live.