How Soon We Forget

Bill Brinkworth

“And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night:  22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” Exodus 13:21-22

When Israel fled their Egyptian captivity, they were not alone. The God they left to worship freely, went before them, and led their way.

By day, God guided them by a column of cloud that went from the ground to where it disappeared from sight in the sky. When it moved, they followed (Num. 9:21). At night, the pillar of cloud became a column of fire, giving them light and still letting them know that God was with them.

Having a visual representation of God in their sight still did not strengthen their faith.  Eleven verses later, in Exodus 14:11-12, we read that Israel still was not trusting God, and was fearful and ready to surrender their short freedom to again serve the Egyptians in slavery (Ex. 14:11-12).

Israel had just seen God do ten miracles in the land of Egypt, so that they could leave the land. God also led them with a guiding pillar; yet they still would not trust Him and be confident in His protection and provision.  All throughout their 40 years of wanderings in the desert, we see a pattern that God did a great miracle to care for them; yet it was not long until the people were murmuring, complaining, and rebelling against Him.

Judgingly, we read of their exploits and say to ourselves, “If I were there with Israel, and seeing all the mighty things God did, I would not complain.  I would trust Him!”

Oh, would you?

We pray, and see God change circumstances, meet our needs, heal others, and countless other requests answered. Sometimes we see doom and gloom as imminent in our lives, and miraculously circumstances change.  We know divine protection spared us from the unpleasant event.  However, with all that we see that God has done in our lives, the next difficulty or unpleasant situation we face has us worrying, doubting, and fearing.  We forget what He has done for us so many times and have weakened faith.  We are no different than the people of Israel.

We think that if we could see the Lord, and live by sight we would be more faithful to the Lord.  Biblical accounts as the one in Exodus 13 and instances in our own lives prove this is not the case.  Seeing does not make one believing and trusting.

God knows us better than we do.  He wants us to live by faith and not sight.  Trusting by sight can diminish when what we believe in vanishes from our vision. Faith, however, once learned and believed, may be weak at times, but it will always be there.  This is why God has always wanted His people to live by faith, not by sight.

When living by faith and recognizing God’s constant hand on one’s life, we no longer have a weak faith.  Remembrances of how God had always helped, met needs, and protected will give one the confidence, “He did it in the past.  He’ll do it again.” One’s faith will be strengthened. Fear and mistrust will abate, and God will do it again!

“(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” II Cor. 5:7
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Heb. 11:6

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