If you’ve heard the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years, you probably remember it as a punishment of sorts. Those stubborn Israelites, not trusting God, and suffering for decades because of it. We often sympathize with the Israelites. That’s how the story is generally used, as an example and admonishment to not be like the Israelites.
When I read this passage today I noticed it was told from the other side of the story. From God’s perspective. It made me chuckle.
Acts 13:17-18 – “The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness.”
1) “During their stay” makes it sound like a vacation, doesn’t it? I have no deep insight here, I just thought it was funny.
2) God “put up with them”. Yes, because I’m sure they did not go 40 years without complaining. If you are a parent, you undoubtedly know what it’s like to put up with an ungrateful child complaining that they aren’t getting what they want or need (according to their childish understanding). It’s aggravating at best. It’s frustrating because there isn’t much you can do, other than let them work through it on their own, and hope that they eventually come to a point where they realize and become grateful for what they do have.
Sadly, some kids don’t ever get there, to that place of gratitude. Or they get there, and they forget. I have lost count of how many times I’ve been there and forgotten. I’m kind of getting back there now, again. I don’t want to be that child who God has to put up with. I want to be thankful. I want to see the streams in the desert. I want to make the most of life during my stay. I am in the desert, but God is with me here, and holds my future. For that, I am grateful.