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  • Writer's pictureRev. Chris Brademeyer

Why Should We Trust God?

God Provides

Laetare – the 4th Sunday in Lent – 3/10/2024

Exodus 16:2-21

Rev. Christopher W. Brademeyer

 

That portion from God’s holy Word for consideration today is our Old Testament lesson from Exodus 16 with special emphasis on verses nine through twelve which read as follows:

 

“ Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’” 10 And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

 

Thus far the Scriptures. Amen.

 

                There are three issues concerning our relationship with God’s providence, that is, with His care of our needs in this life. Firstly, we distrust God’s promise to provide for us. Secondly, we seem to be inclined to demand more than God gives. Finally, we often focus our asking of God on earthly things that pass away rather than on eternal things that last forever.

                God repeatedly says to us, His people, that all our needs will be take care of. He will, from His mercy and love, grant us what we need. And despite His persistent assurances that we will have our daily bread, in all that entails, we human beings still often cry out to God as if His promises are somehow in question. God always does what He promises and the issue with our distrust is not located in God or His motives, rather, it is in us and our lack of trust in Him. That is to say, we are, by our sinful nature, disposed to distrust God, doubt His promises, and call His continued goodness towards us into question. And there really is no need for this doubt and distrust on our end. God does not abandon His promises to us.

                The people of Israel were no different from us in this regard. Despite God’s repeated demonstrations of both His power and ability to provide for them, they continued to distrust Him and demand greater things from Him.     In this passage, Israel has been freed from slavery. They had already seen the ten plagues. They were delivered in the Exodus. They had been led by a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. They had crossed the Red Sea in the miracle of it being parted. And now, in the Sinai Peninsula, opposite the Red Sea from Egypt, they still grumbled and complained about what God had given them.

                If we are being honest with ourselves, we must acknowledge that all of us struggle with these sorts of doubts from time to time. And why do we think this way? I know that some of us have had lean times, when money was tight, even so tight that it led to sleepless nights and real fear about the future. Yet even in these lean times, have you even lacked the basic necessities in life? Even if the cupboards are empty, there are places here in our community that can easily provide our next meal, not to mention the generosity of the people here in our church and over generous people in our community. That is to say, such is the generosity of God, that even in the tightest of times in our personal lives, God still provides even in means other than those of our bank accounts. In other words, God will always deliver on His promise to provide for our daily needs, even if the manner in which He does so is not what we expect. In case I have not been clear, God promises to provide all you need, even with and in spite of our doubts.

                In addition to our distrust of God making good on His promise to care for us, we also tend to look down on what God provides. Instead of being thankful, we instead demand other things. In addition to our distrust of God continuing to provide, we also find ourselves dissatisfied with what He grants us in this life. Now I am not saying that it is sin to want to improve our state in this life by either better habits, new abilities, or entrepreneurship, however, there is a fine line between a godly cultivation and care of things that God gives and a dissatisfaction with the good gifts of God. God gives us what we need, and much like the Israelites in our reading today, we often demand what we want and find dissatisfaction with what God gives. To be brief, our sinful selves are always looking for reasons to be dissatisfied with what God gives us. Just like a spoiled child who is not happy that he or she got a treat because it was the wrong color, so too are we before God. Contentedness is difficult in the best of circumstances. In a society like ours in which we are bombarded with advertising to the tune of somewhere between four to ten thousand ads and brand placements each day.[1] If a person is awake for sixteen hours a day, this means that he or she is exposed to a minimum of a little under 4.2 ads per minute he or she is awake. The reason that this makes contentedness hard, that is, makes it difficult to be content and satisfied with what God gives us, is that advertisements are specifically designed to make us want something. And while it is not sinful in and of itself to want to buy a new kind of pop or take a trip somewhere, dissatisfaction with our lives and the things God has given us in them is. Just as there is a fine line between wanting to grow, develop, and improve and human beings by being good stewards of what God gives, so too is there a fine line between desire and dissatisfaction.

                Dissatisfaction is what drove the Israelites to complain and grumble against God and His gifts. But why did they complain? They had everything that they needed. And, as much as we might not want to admit this, most of the time when we complain, we do so from a place in life where the basics are already covered. With this dissatisfaction also comes greed and stinginess. Dissatisfaction makes us feel like we do not have enough and those who do not have enough are hesitant to be generous or charitable. In other words, a distrust or dissatisfaction with God’s promises often accompanies a lack of care for our neighbors.

                Finally, this our focus, like the Israelites, tends to be on earthly things and earthly needs to the exclusion of eternal things. For example, how often have people used work or sleep as excuses to avoid church and the Word of God? How often do we stay awake at night fretting over bills and politics and people we interact with in town compared to the number of times we lie awake pondering our place before God? It is understandable in a sense that we would focus on things this way, after all, eternity is still partially hidden from us, and we only see it now in part. But, as our Gospel reading demonstrates, our greatest need is for eternal life and salvation given in the forgiveness of sins in Christ Jesus.

                So, dear friends in Christ, despite our discomforts, dissatisfactions and disappointments, we have a God who cares for us in all aspects of our existence. From the most mundane of everyday concerns all the way to our eternal fate and ultimate identity and place, God provides all that we need to us. And certainly He will continue to do so. After all, His care for us is not rooted in us or how much we deserve it, but in His own character and love, a love so deep and wide that it led Him to give up His only Son into death so that we might have life and everlasting salvation.

                In the holy Name of + Jesus. Amen.

                The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.


[1] This estimate is nearly a decade old; it dates to at least 2015. No doubt, current estimates are higher. See, for example, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/08/25/finding-brand-success-in-the-digital-world/?sh=7d943615626e. Accessed on 3/8/2024

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