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Moses’ Complaint pt. 1

Numbers 11:11
Moses said to the LORD, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant? And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me?”

Unlike the shallow griping of that faction of whiners we encountered in the previous verses, Moses’ complaint here is resonant, striking a chord with every person who’s ever born the daunting responsibility of raising argumentative children or serving a faithless spouse or pastoring a dying church or leading any cantankerous group of people who raise Cain the whole way.

This is Moses at his wits end. On the verge perhaps of a nervous breakdown. You can feel the tremor in his voice through the lines of text. You can feel his knuckles tightening around his staff and choking the wooden emblem of his clerical position, just as they’d done during those final, unfruitful meetings with Pharoah. He’s fed up with all the complaining. He can’t take another word of it; and he effectively says what we’ve all said in our weakest moments, “God, why would You place this burden on me?! Do you really love me so little? Why do you keep breaking me down?! I can’t take it anymore—these kids—this spouse—these employees—these in-laws—these neighbors—can’t You see I’ve got nothing left?! I’m spent!”

But even though the turbulence of Moses’ present despair keeps him from seeing it, God hasn’t abandoned him for even a moment. Immanuel has been right by His side throughout the journey, providing what Moses lacks every step of the way. When Moses was afraid to speak, the LORD sent Aaron. When words fell short, God performed marvels through his staff. And whenever Moses yearned to see more of God, asking in his own words, “Show me Your glory!”, the LORD revealed visions too wondrous to even recount. No surprise then that even after Moses berates God in this fit of temporary insanity, God hears the heart behind the cry and answers by providing seventy fresh assistants to help shoulder the load.

Friend, don’t plead with God for trivialities like onions and leeks and garlic today, but plead with Him for your deeper need of fortitude to love difficult people. And know that even if your exasperation doesn’t quite come out right, God’s will still respond with mercy and grace.