Be Careful What You Wish For

Numbers 14:1-2 “And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!”

This title of the article brings to my mind the Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life.  George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) lives his normal, fairly comfortable, and happy life, but when things get a little tough, he comes to the point of wishing he had never been born.  His guardian angel, Clarence, who has been sent to help him, tells him his wish is granted.  So, now life moves on, and George goes back into the town where he lived, but now life is in action without him having had any influence at all.  He had saved his brother from drowning, helped many people get homes, and done a lot of good, but now as he walks through his hometown, life is completely different.  He got his wish, but it surely was not what he had hoped.  In the end, he realizes that he had made a foolish statement, and he begged and pleaded for that wish to be changed.  As this Christmas classic ends, George finds himself overjoyed with life and was truly thankful for the life that he had prior to his “wish”.

Reading through the books of Exodus and Numbers the past few weeks has reminded me of the frustration that God had for His people.  When things were going well, the children of Israel seemed happy, but it seemed, in their eyes, as if things got uncomfortable way too often.  This caused them to test the patience and longsuffering of God. God had blessed them beyond measure with His deliverance, His guidance, His protection, His provision, etc. but they never stayed content.  Now, they come to the land of promise. This is the place they had heard so much about. The spies go in to search the land, and they return with agreeing reports of the fruit of the land, but then come the disagreeing reports of the conquering of the land.  Ten gave an evil report and two gave a favorable report. So, the people of Israel follow those who gave an evil report, and this leads to the above verses in this article. 

Bitter weeping fills the camp of Israel and bitter words follow as they make their brash statements to the man of God.  Basically, they make their case that they wished they could have died in Egypt or to simply die in this wilderness that they had been (verse 2).  This is what caught my attention as I continued reading chapter. Take a look at the verses following:

Numbers 14:29-35 Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me….But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness…..And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness……I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.

What a reminder for us as children of God to be content in our situation.  We so often look at the world, a different job, a better home situation, etc., and we start making wishes.  I plead with you to simply “be careful what you wish for.” Did the people of Israel really want to die in the wilderness?  I think not, but since they wished it, God granted it. Let us take caution about our complaining ways and stay content with what the Lord has provided for us.

Evangelist Eric Ramos

Fair Haven Baptist Church