young man on challenging trek March 3 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Numbers 11, 12

Enduring Hardship

Life is an adventure, but our trek is not always easy. The trail may be long and rocky, filled with weeds and sticker burrs, or stumps to trip over. Sometimes our problems looks like a large mountain we must get over and we don't know if we have the strength. Other times, like a heavy pack on our backs, we feel burdened down with our troubles. How can we endure hardships and make it through life?

The Israelites were on a trek through the desert on the way to Canaan, their promised land. The conditions were not easy to bear and they complained. What happens when things aren't going well in a family or other organization? There is trouble in the ranks—discontent, complaining, and even desertion or insurrection.

Why did God bring hardships upon his people? Those who believe that the LORD will only give them blessings and never allow hardships wonder the same thing. If God has brought us into a new relationship with him by his Son Jesus Christ, why do we have troubles? Aren't Christians supposed to be free from trouble and blessed both spiritually and materially?

Difficult trials test the mettle of our character and make us better servants of Jesus Christ. We need to endure. The mettle of our character is tested through the heat of adversity. Greater faith in the LORD and endurance are often God's purpose for allowing hardships.

As Israel journeys into the wilderness she faces physical challenges. The desert is hot, dry, windy, and dusty in the day time, and cold at night. Besides a bread like substance, which daily appears on the ground (manna), there is rarely food or water in sight. There are over two million people and multiple millions of animals to feed. Venomous snakes inhabit the desert. The people are open to attack by enemies with no natural protection. Will God be faithful to them or will they die here? Will he be with us when we are facing serious adversity?

The secret of enduring our present situation is to meditate on how God has already been faithful and then trust him to be faithful in our current struggles. The Israelites are forced to trust the LORD for their very lives, but they have already witnessed that he is faithful.

  • God, in his mighty strength, delivered them from Egyptian bondage by ten miraculous plagues.
  • He parted the Red Sea so they might pass through on dry ground and then drowned their Egyptian pursuers.
  • The LORD supplied water to drink and bread to eat in the desert wilderness.
  • He provided moral and civil laws for them to obey and prosper.
  • God gave them a tabernacle for their worship and a sacrificial system to alleviate their guilt and sin.
  • He instituted feasts so they could rehearse and remember all the good things the LORD has done for them.
  • The Almighty organized them for battle. He promised that he will be with them and fight for them if they will obey.
It seems the people would be thankful and ready to fight the battles to gain victory, but there is trouble in the ranks—there is complaining and dissension.

First, the people complain about the camp food. This makes God angry, for daily he miraculously provides it, and it tastes good and is nutritious. He wants them to be content with what he supplies. Moses is exceedingly distressed over the complaining directed at him (leaders always bear the blunt of the blame) and he asks God for help. The LORD equips seventy elders to share the burden of the ministry. Then he causes a gale force wind to bring a huge flock of quail so the people will have meat. As they begin to eat, God plagues the people for complaining.

How satisfied are we with what the LORD has already provided? Do we find ourselves always grumbling about what we don't have? This makes God angry. We need to develop an attitude of gratitude for all that he has supplied. This is essential, not only for ourselves, but for those around us—an attitude of complaining is infectious and injurious to people's trust in the LORD. We need to be grateful for God's past and present provisions. This will help us endure hardships and lead us to contentment and faith.

Not only are there complaints about food, but there are also complaints about the leadership. Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses because he is married to a Cushite wife (we do not know what happened to his first wife, Zipporah; perhaps she had died). Maybe Aaron and Miriam do not like her or think she threatens their leadership standing in Israel. (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., by Walvoord & Zuck, © 1985, p. 228). Possibly Moses' Cushite wife is accused of being unclean (not being a true Israelite). Perhaps, it is for this reason that God makes Miriam unclean with leprosy for a week—to teach her a lesson about opposing his anointed leader. It is dangerous to oppose God's chosen leaders because it offends him, and he will come to their defense.

Lessons to Live By

  • Troubles test the mettle of our character and make us better soldiers of Jesus Christ. (James 1:2-4). Do you know him? He not only helps us with our trials—he offers us forgiveness of sins, peace, and spiritual life (more...)
  • Our commander's purpose for allowing hardships is often to build our faith and endurance.
  • God is angry about constant grumbling and complaining. It is ungrateful. An attitude of complaining is infectious and injurious to people's faith and trust in the LORD. We need to develop an attitude of gratitude for all that he has supplied.
  • The secret of contentment and enduring our present situation is to meditate on how God has already been faithful. We can then trust him to be faithful in our current struggles.
  • Give honor to the LORD's chosen leaders and obey them (Hebrews 13:7, 17). He defends his chosen leaders.

Focus Verse

2Timothy 2:3 (NIV) “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”

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A Look Ahead: When we face great challenges, how will we respond—with Faith or Fear? How can we keep from giving into fear? Get encouragement to trust God in our Next Lesson.

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