They are: “But,” “If only,” and “Why?”
As the Israelites approached the Promised Land, Moses commissioned 12 spies to go in and scope out the territory. Upon their return, they reported that the land was indeed flowing with milk and honey!
“But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large… ” (Numbers 13:26a)
By this report, ten of the twelve spies gave evidence of the fact that they were paralyzed by fear, rather than mobilized by faith. Sadly, they had allowed their perception of the facts, rather than the promises of God to dictate their response to the situation. In their minds,
God was not big enough to surmount the obstacles.
- When we allow “but” to dominate our vocabulary, we question God’s power.
“If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert!” (Numbers 14:2b)
Clearly, God had led the Israelites across the desert, assuring them of His presence in providing the pillar of fire by night and the cloud of protection by day. Wonderfully, He had furnished them with manna from heaven, water from the rock, and clothing that did not wear out.
Yet, the moment they were faced with adversity, they cried out, “if only.” By that lament they signaled their preference to living in bondage under their Egyptian oppressors over living in freedom under God’s sovereign care. (Numbers 14:2)
- When we entertain the “if only‘s,” we question God’s goodness.
“Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword?” (Numbers 14:3a)
Faced with formidable obstacles in conquering the land God had promised them, the
Israelites whined “why,” rather than believing God could and would help them overcome the barriers.
- When we ask “Why,” we question God’s wisdom .
When God calls us to Himself, He calls us to a life of faith: “But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” (Hebrews 10:38)
QUESTION: So tell me, fellow pilgrim, as you trek across your own God-assigned desert, are you shrinking back from the barriers with “but“, “if only“, and “why“? Or are you choosing to forge ahead, trusting in His power, His goodness, and His wisdom?