There's an interesting dynamic with Israel in the wilderness. If you've read through the narrative of their journey, you've probably noticed that they're guilty of a bit of grumbling...okay, a lot of grumbling. They always seem to have something they're unhappy about.
What's interesting is that sometimes, they're unhappy about completely opposite things.
Take, for example, how often they cry out that they're going to die in this God-forsaken wilderness where, ironically, God has done nothing but forsake them. Rather, He is ever-present with them, and they need only to look at the cloud and the fire to know this. Still, they cry out. They're going to die in this barren place! And they conclude it would be better for them to go back to Egypt, where they were able to live. Even living as slaves is better than dying as free wanderers.
But pay attention, and it doesn't take long before you hear another vein coming through in the Israelites' complaining - they'd rather be back in Egypt because it was a better place to die. If they were dying in Egypt, at least they'd have their own place to do it and their own households to pass on to their children. This wilderness? It's a terrible place to live. It's just not working for them. And many would rather go back to Egypt to die as slaves than to live in this wilderness for one day longer.
So, Israel, which is it? Would you rather live as slaves than die as free men...or would you rather die as slaves than live as free men?
Although less dramatic because we don't typically have physical places to which to tie our wanderings, the question most of us are asking today is the same one. Our grumbling is still the same. Caught between what God expects of us...and what we desire of ourselves...and the reality of our fallen nature that keeps us falling short, we're torn between whether we do good or whether we even try any more.
Even Paul said it - the good that I want to do, I do not do, but the evil that I do not want to do, this I do. And so it is with us. We want to be godly people, but being godly people is hard. And sometimes, it seems like we're better off just giving up and living as slaves to sin rather than continue to fail and to die on a godly path.
Other times, of course, it's just tiring. Wearying. Exhausting. And we'd rather die and die quickly, and captivity to sin seems like a good place to die quickly. Better to just blow it big time than to persist in the baby steps of trying to get it right, of trying to righteous.
It seems no matter where we are, anywhere seems better than this God-forsaken place. But what we must remember is that, like Israel, this is the place in which we are precisely not forsaken. And if we need a reminder of that, we need only look around and see Him present with us.