Moses had led the community of Israel to Kadesh. There the people began to complain bitterly about both Moses and their living conditions:
In the first month of the year, the whole community of Israel arrived in the wilderness of Zin and camped at Kadesh. While they were there, Miriam died and was buried.
There was no water for the people to drink at that place, so they rebelled against Moses and Aaron. The people blamed Moses and said, “If only we had died in the LORD’s presence with our brothers! Why have you brought the congregation of the LORD’s people into this wilderness to die, along with all our livestock? Why did you make us leave Egypt and bring us here to this terrible place? This land has no grain, no figs, no grapes, no pomegranates, and no water to drink!” (Num. 20:1-5)
I recently heard a television commentator share some advice that he said his grandfather had given to him: “Never make a big decision when you are sad, tired or angry.” Moses hit the trifecta!
He was sad. Moses’ sister, Miriam, had died. God was responsible for saving Moses from death as an infant, but He had used Miriam as the instrument to accomplish it. Throughout the exodus from Egypt, the 40 years of wandering, Miriam had been right there with him and Aaron. Now she was dead and Moses was grieving her loss. He was grieving the loss of a sister, a supporter, a leader and a friend. He was grieving the loss of stability and familiarity. Perhaps he was grieving his own mortality as the death of peers dramatically brings to light our own human frailty.
The enemy often attacks during times of grief for a number of reasons:
- Grieving can increase our vulnerability by decreasing our vigilance because we are distracted by pain.
- The desire to relieve our pain can lead us to be tempted to do so with illegitimate solutions to make us feel better or dull the hurt – substances, sex, more work, entertainment, etc.
- Pain can dull our senses towards God.
The people’s challenge to Moses’ leadership only added to his sense of isolation as now he was also grieving the loss of respect and authority.
From the initial loss of her person and to eventual loss of her presence, my mother’s terminal journey with Alzheimer’s produced in me an extended period of grieving. In one form or another, I experienced all of the aforementioned enemy attacks. As a pastor, I am expected to have words of comfort – my own and God’s – for those who are hurting. What about when I’m hurting?
What about you? Are you grieving loss? Have you experienced the enemy’s sneak grief attacks? How have you handled them? How is it impacting your decision making?
In my next entry, I will address the second part of Moses’ trifecta: fatigue.
Please add your voice to the conversation.