I feel rather sorry for the Israelites. Scripture records so beautifully the miracles that God wrought on their behalf. It also chronicles so painfully (and so publicly) their ungrateful reactions to the miracles they would have handled differently.
Take manna. Here was a food they didn’t have to grow, kill, cut up or preserve for the future. It arrived daily. They just had to gather it up, throw it in a bowl and stir before placing on the fire. Sounds pretty easy to me. God had taken them out of slavery, parted the red sea, killed off the Egyptian army, guided them on the journey with visible signs, and now was providing fast food from heaven and they complain? Seriously?
Then my self-righteousness harkens back to the miracles in my own life that I would have done a bit differently had I been in charge. Take the time when the kids were small and I was honestly worried about having enough food on the table. Then a friend called inviting me to a neighbor’s green bean field that the canning company had abandoned. The farmer threw open the gates to his neighbors, so we arrived with large plastic trash sacks and spent the day picking beans. In the next two days, my little children and I had washed, snapped and canned 100 quarts of green beans. For those of you who are not into food preservation, that is an incredible amount of work in a short time. The pantry was glorious with all those jars of beans and we loved eating them. Until we got to the 50th jar, 50 days later. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the manna revolt.
Probably the biggest miracle in our lives was the stream of fat letters my oldest son received from colleges around the country his senior year in high school. Four years later the same thing happened for my daughter, but by this point fat letters had turned into email invitations. It was without a doubt an amazing miracle, but one that came with pain. We didn’t have the money to take my son to college, so we shipped a few boxes, put him on a plane and my tears fell as he had to shift for himself in a whole new world. We were able to visit each of our kids one time while in college and then attend their graduation. That was all. Even today, it hurts to hear parents talk about their active involvement with their college kids, going back and forth to ballgames, taking part in parent’s weekend, etc. My kids had an amazing education and incredible experiences, but I was not a part of all that.
Uncomfortable miracles can fill our hearts with thanksgiving and then break them.
Through the years, I’ve found that miracles are never as timely as I would like. They tend to occur very late in the agony. It seems to me that there are usually a few important things that are not provided for. That is, if I were running things.
Yet, despite my ungratefulness over the years, my loving God keeps filling life with miracles. And I have finally learned that to accept the blessing, I must also consent to the strings attached. Usually those strings involve a painful personal growth that I would really rather just skip. But, I am doing a better job of being thankful these days. Now that my hair is grey, I understand a little better the infinite care that has gone into the plan for my life and the life of my family. And even when I don’t understand the details and the miracle is uncomfortable, I can rest in the fact that there is a future and a hope.
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