16 The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” 8 And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.”
Sometimes it is so hard to keep everyone happy! Even after God sent Moses to help to free them from generations of slavery and lead them to freedom in a land of their own, the people of Israel were complaining about not having enough to eat and having to travel through the wilderness in order to reach their new lives!
God heard their complaints, and though it seems as if God might have been feeling a little bit unappreciated, provided the people with more than enough to sustain them on their journey; all they had to do was gather it up off of the ground! This was not only a test of the people’s obedience but also a selfless act of love on the part of God…who did not want to see the people struggle more than necessary.
As single parents we have often had to make decisions for our kids that we knew were for the best, but were still met with a lot of complaining and out-right frustration! While it can be argued that this is just a part of being a parent (single or otherwise), it can be frustrating to have our efforts and sacrifices go unappreciated!
Now if we got this kind of response in many other situations, such as at work or even at church, we might just think about giving up, or quitting and moving on…but with our kids it is different…as most of us would find it almost impossible to give up on our children! So we keep trying to do what is best for them, even when we know it won’t be appreciated.
Being a parent is not about being popular…though it would be dishonest to say we like it better when our kids are happy with us…that is not the goal of parenting, as the important thing is loving our kids, even when that means making unpopular choices to ensure that they have the ability to grow into good people who can make a positive contribution to the world! This is not an easy task for us, especially as we do not always have the ‘other’ parent to help back us up on our decisions and support us when the going becomes difficult…sometimes all we can hope for is that the ‘other’ parent does not actively try to undermine our efforts.
So where do we turn for support when we have to deal with complaints and negative comments? We can turn to God in prayer and faith. After all, God knows what it is like to listen to complaints from those he loves dearly, who knows how these complaints can hurt, and who knows the pain of having to make hard choices. Our faith in God’s love and presence in our lives can give us the strength we need to meet the challenges of single parenting, and to handle the complaints without giving in to them and making choices that would be better received, but which would not be for the best!
It is this faith, when shared with others, which can also give us support and direction for times when we are frustrated or in doubt about the choices we have made. Talking to other people of faith, whether they are parents or not, about our concerns, and asking them for advice can help reduce our stress and give us good ideas for moving forward, and making the best decisions for our children and ourselves.
Even in today’s reading we see that God and Moses find comfort in talking about the complaints of the Hebrew people, and in sharing their faith new solutions were found to troubling problems.
While being a parent is a wonderful part of our lives, and can bring us much joy and love, at times it can also be difficult, like when we have to make the hard and unpopular decisions. There is an old saying that God doesn’t give us any more than we can handle in a given day…I agree with this saying, but would like to add that God does not expect us to handle these challenges on our own, and this is the good news for us, that through prayer, the scriptures, and each other God is always with us and our children!
Knowing that we are never alone and never beyond the reach of God’s love gives us hope and strength to face life on life’s terms…one day at a time!
Let us Pray:
God, thank you that you only want the best for us, even if it does not always make us happy, Please let us remember that it is never your will for us to suffer or be in pain. Help us to show our children (and ourselves) the same kind of selfless love that you have given to us. Thank you for always being with us in love and support — both directly and through the people you have put in our lives! Help us to have the faith and wisdom to make the best (if not always easiest) choices for our children, and to not take any complaints too harshly.