Discouraged Because of the Way

And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

Numbers 21:4

Has there ever been a time when you have been discouraged?  This verse says that the Israelites were discouraged “because of the way”.  Sometimes the way that we travel is a cause for discouragement.  Not everything goes smoothly all the time.  Even though the Lord was leading them and there is no indication that they weren’t following Him, they were still discouraged in the way.  Problems will come for all of us.  The issue is not whether or not problems will come, the issue is how we will react to the problems that are sure to come our way. 

The Israelites reacted in the wrong way: verse 5 says that “the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?  for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.”.  The Israelites reacted to problems and a rough road by doing several wrong things:

1.They started questioning God and God-appointed leaders. “The people spake against God, and against Moses.”  No matter what the trial, we should never “speak against God”.  That is not an argument we are going to win.

2.They started despairing.  “Wherefore have ye brought us up out of the Egypt to die in the wilderness?”  The Israelites use this exact statement five different times during their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.  Of course God hadn’t brought them out of Egypt to let them die in the wilderness.  He hadn’t wrought great miracles and given them great victories just to let them die.  He hadn’t borne them on eagles’ wings and brought them to Himself (Exodus 19:4) just to fail them at the end when the journey got hard.

3. They started exaggerating their problems. “There is no bread, and neither is there any water.”  The Israelites had bread- they had the heaven-sent manna straight from God.  In the previous chapter, they had water gushing out from a rock.  Sometimes when things get difficult for us, we start to look at our problems too much and we start making mountains out of molehills. 

4. They started complaining about God’s provision.  “Our soul loatheth this light bread”.  They were complaining about God’s provision for them.  God was miraculously providing them with food to eat, and they were critical and complaining about it.  How often has God been good and merciful to us, but we have still found some reason to complain?

When our path gets hard and we get “discouraged because of the way”, instead of complaining and griping, we need to keep trusting the Lord and “looking unto Jesus”.  In the end of the story, the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people as punishment for their attitude.  Job would be the perfect example of what to do when we get discouraged.  If anyone had reason for discouragement, it was Job.  Yet in everything that happened to him, “Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly”.  Let his be our example and not the Israelites.

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