The people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” (Exodus 17:2-3)
It’s a hazard of leadership - no matter what you do, someone is going to be unhappy. And quite often, one very vocal somebody can turn an entire crowd against a leader who often has just been doing his or her best in a tough situation. Case in point: Tom Mason, the main character on the sci fi TV series Falling Skies. Before the alien attack he was a college history professor. In the aftermath, he finds himself in a leadership role, even being elected President of a remnant of the United States at one point. He works very hard to make decisions for the good of the entire group, but just as often as people look to him to get them through the continuing alien nightmare there are those who are constantly stirring up negative sentiment against him.
I don’t completely blame the alien attack survivors for not always trusting Mason’s leadership, nor do I completely blame the Israelites for lashing out against Moses. Both scenarios are extremely stressful, and stressful situations are not always known for bringing out the best in people, especially the longer the hardship goes on. When all hope seems to be gone and our faith and trust starts to wane because no good results seem to be forthcoming, we begin to take out our frustrations on the closest thing, whether that happens to be a former professor, a fellow Hebrew and former prince of Egypt, or even God himself.
So what do we do? How do we keep from becoming the grumblers and complainers and whiners? Maybe these stories remind us that instead of continuing to look through dirty, smudged glasses, we need to put on fresh “perspectacles” (my new favorite word, thanks to Glennon Melton) and look for all the good that has happened despite the stresses and hardships. How much sooner might the Israelites have reached the promised land if they had been grateful for the manna, for the quail, for the release from slavery, instead of constantly whinging about what they perceived to be lacking?
To be sure, it is easier said than done. But isn't it a goal worth striving towards?