Have you ever asked this question?
I was recently at youth Alpha Course where we were asked: If you can ask God one thing, what would this be?
Here are some responses:
Why does he allow suffering in the world?
Why does he make us different?
Why are you so distant?
God, do you care?
Are you that bothered about me, the world, humanity?
Why have you left us?
I can imagine that these are the sort of questions are being asked daily by the Ukrainian families leaving their motherland or by a volunteer soldier ready to lay down his life for his land.
What I have found when we ask: God, do you care? We are asking if God has abandoned us. This presupposes a knowledge of God’s caring. I have also found that when we ask this question, we are threatened, especially when the necessities of life are being deprived. This question is not a new one. It was asked by the people of Israel leaving their lives of slavery in Egypt. Yet, they complained to Moses because of the lack of water.
Now, asking for something so fundamental for life itself is not wrong. We need water to sustain life, and without it, we die. It is not a selfish right but a basic human need.
Wouldn’t God care? Is he so aloft that he can’t be bothered with us? For some, these questions are irrelevant, as some may believe that there is no God. But for others, like myself, it is worth asking. Is God with us, or not? The truth is that God cannot take sides, to be brutally honest: Who are we to demand something from God in the first place?
If we think that God can take sides, we will be disappointed. He is Sovereign.
Why do we believe we can demand God to be on our side? Because it is by his own will and pleasure that he chose us. Yes, he did, and we like the people of Israel. We were the least of people. We have always been.
We assumed that we could demand from God to be on our side because of his self-revelation to us; we experienced something of his presence and his goodness. The issue for me is not him but us, and when I read Exodus 17:1-7, I am more convinced that it is us and not God.
“All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarrelled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarrelling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”
(Exodus 17:1–7 ESV)
God took these people out of slavery in Egypt; in their journey, they came to a place where there was no water. Now they were there by the will of God. But instead of trusting the One who saved them from slavery, they quarrelled against Moses and the Lord. They even said they were much better as enslaved people back in Egypt than living in the desert without water. These people had a very short-term memory. Did they not experience the power of God and how the seas parted so that they could cross over the Red Sea? Was that not enough to trust God?
They quarrelled, they grumbled, and they almost stoned their leader!
I knew that God would provide water; how could he not? The temptation and the danger of forgetting God’s action are always present.
God is faithful to his promises, and when he said he would never leave us nor forsake us, he meant it. Does God care? Yes, he does! Is he on our side? No, when we come to him thinking that he owned us something.
I have seen enough through the media to realise that genuine and humble people ask God for deliverance. We all have witnessed the blindness and severity of a leader who believes he is entitled to wage war.
How far he is from the truth, he does not realise that it is God who rules and overrules the authorities of this world.
But I hope that we will not quarrel, nor grumble against the Lord and one another, but be found in a place of grace, mercy and thankfulness. God provided the water, and Moses stroked the stone. God, in His mercy, let his Son Jesus be stricken for us so that we will never be thirsty again.