Exodus provides a study in human nature. The fickleness of the Israelites so well mirrors our own back-and-forth, up-and-down emotional mindsets. We, too, rail against change even when it’s good for us because oppressiveness is at least familiar. We recognize it and know how to live in it. We waver in our thinking, then, because we want out of suffering while at the same time resist steps of progress toward victory because its uncomfortable, hard work.
The Israelites were double-minded, too, and their story helps us see ourselves better. In their exodus, they cried out to or praised God one minute, then were in despair and wanting to go back to slavery in Egypt where at least they had food (Exodus 16:3) the next. They wavered based on their circumstances. They resisted change and often longed for slavery because being in oppression was familiar and moving into freedom meant going toward the scary unknown.
Choosing misery often simply means choosing the known and comfortable over change and the unknown. As long as our misery is an excuse, we probably won’t change. The unknown requires that we confront fears and release crutches. It’s often simply easier to stay miserable – depressed, addicted, anxious, busy, angry, etc. – than it is to move toward a new way of thinking about ourselves and others. Change is just not easy sometimes.
Like God did with the Israelites, we sometimes must be forced to move toward a new land. We must be pushed toward change; otherwise, we’ll stay where we are even though we’re unhappy. Job changes. Empty nest. Relocation. Aging. Life has a way of pushing toward what’s better for us if we’ll direct our attention to the one who created that life.
Instead of waffling between staying in our misery because it’s comfortable and taking steps of growth and change even though it’s uncomfortable, we can confidently ask God for wisdom and trust that he will give us exactly what we need when we need it. Then, when we receive that wisdom, we can move forward knowing we have what we need to do so. Our fear of change doesn’t have to hold us back.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:5-8)
We don’t have to be like an undulating wave at the mercy of the wind. We can have confidence and stability in our attitudes, actions, and words simply by asking for and then moving forward in wisdom from God.
God promises to give wisdom liberally to anyone who asks, but he doesn’t say we’ll know exactly what’s going to happen when we let that wisdom drive us to action. Instead, we are to step out in faith, taking small steps that will add up toward tremendous change. In those steps, we find consistency and stability in ways we never imagined possible.