Will the real Miriam please stand up?
After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, across the Red Sea, Exodus 15:20-21 tells us, “The prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took her tambourine, and all the women followed her, playing tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang for them: ‘Sing to the Lord, because he has won a glorious victory; he has thrown the horses and their riders into the sea.”
But after being in the wilderness for many, many years, Miriam’s attitude changed.
“And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. They said, ‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he also spoken through us’” (Numbers 12:1-2).
Miriam learned how to complain, to pick out all the bad things about life...and about people. Because of her complaining, her skin was suddenly covered with a dreaded disease, and she had to be put out of the camp for seven days. Otherwise the entire camp would have been infected.
Did you know that complaining and praise are two sides of the same coin? Just like fear and faith. A complainer looks at a situation and assumes the worst, harping on everything that is wrong. A praiser looks at the same situation and assumes the best, gushing over everything that is right.
Something happened to make Miriam go from praising God to complaining. I suspect it was the journey through the wilderness–the manna day in and day out, the walking, having to talk to the same people day after day.
Even though God provided their needs–food to eat, water to drink, light at night, shoes and clothes that didn’t wear out–the miracles had become commonplace to them, a part of their daily routine like getting up in the morning and eating breakfast.
As we would say, they were too close to the problem. They couldn’t see what God was doing while they were in the midst of the desert. They couldn’t see how God was working on their behalf.
We are like those people wandering in the desert for forty years. We go through life, suffering through our problems. We complain that God isn’t doing anything in our lives. We get frustrated and depressed just like the Children of Israel. All the while God is working behind the scenes, orchestrating our lives and turning everything around for our good.
And we could short-cut the amount of time we spent wandering around, struggling, if we would just praise God while we are in the middle of the problem. That is the mark of true faith when you are so fully persuaded that God will do what He promised that you praise Him in advance.
Next time you are tempted to complain about something, take five minutes and pick out five things about that situation in which you can praise God for. If you put this into practice, eventually it will revolutionize your mouth...and your life.
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