After months of barely leaving home, our family enjoyed a glorious vacation at the beach with my brother and sister-in-law last week. The house we rented was perfect, the weather delicious, the sand, sun, and fellowship an incredible gift. While we were relishing our time away, Hurricane Laura hit our homes.
The night that the hurricane was supposed to bring a twenty-foot storm surge (which would have destroyed both of our families’ houses) we knelt with our kids and begged God for protection. To our great joy, we woke up the next morning to the news that our homes were completely spared!
As we praised God together, we read to the children from a Bible storybook recounting God’s miraculous salvation of the Israelites, who witnessed the Red Sea parted, freedom from slavery, and God’s destruction of their enemies, only to turn quickly back to complaining and longing for Egypt, where they sat around pots of meat and ate all the food [they] wanted (Ex 16:3).
I was struck by how quickly God’s people forgot God’s mighty intervention, love, and mercy, and instead complained about the minor inconvenience of not having meat. It was probably less than a month after the Red Sea when they began to wallow in self-pity. How could they be so ungrateful? How could they forget so soon?
We wrapped up our vacation and headed home to our miraculously undamaged house. A few shingles missing from our shed, minor damage to our play set, and spoiled food in our fridge and freezer were the only challenges awaiting us from what could have been an apocalyptic storm. I spent a few hours elbow deep in melted ice cream, and finally turned to empty out the bottom drawer of our freezer, which contained a disgusting mixture of blood, blueberries, and water. “Ugh!” I complained, “This is sooooo gross.” As if on cue, my six-year-old twirled into the kitchen, smiling, “I am just so happy our home is okay, Mom.”
At that moment I saw myself as God must have seen me, and I had to laugh at myself—my forgetfulness, my self-pity. Instead of cleaning out my freezer, I could have been looking over the shredded remains of our home. I could have been facing the loss of everything we own. God protected us from that devastation, and although I rejoiced for a day or so, I immediately fell back into self-pity over a few hours of gross housework? How quickly I forget!
I don’t want to be like the Israelites. I want to be grateful—but how? How often do I reflect on God’s mercy? How often do I recall all of the times God has moved powerfully in my life? Do I live in awe of God’s goodness? Or do I complain about the relatively minor difficulties I encounter? How can I forget so soon?
Rather than turning to self-pity, I want to mindfully embrace God’s goodness every day, to be filled with gratitude and hope instead of forgetfulness, to remember that the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him’ (Lam 3:22).
Oh I love this, Sarah! I am so tempted to self-pity. Thank you for showing so clearly a higher way!