“A man is the sum of his parts and his character the sum of traits that compose it. These traits vary from man to man and may from time to time vary from themselves within the same man. Human character is not constant because the traits or qualities that construct it are unstable.”
A. W. Tozer
Where God is harmonious, faithful, and one within Himself, humans are divisive, complicated, conflicted and adulterous.
Thus why God is trustworthy and man is not.
Why God is dependable, and man is not.
Why God is God and man is not.
Tozer does a fine job of describing God. He tells us, “All God does; He does not divide Himself to perform work, but works in the total unity of His being.” (The Knowledge of the Holy) God is harmonious and wholly unified.
No matter how hard we try as human beings to be consistent, we fail. We see this not only over and over in ourselves, but we see it in God’s people within the pages of God’s word.
Then they (the Israelites) set out from Mount Hor by way of the Red Sea to bypass the land of Edom, but the people became impatient because of the journey. The people spoke against God and Moses: “Why have you led us up from Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread or water, and we detest this wretched food!”
Then the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and they bit them so that many Israelites died.
The people then came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and you. Intercede with the Lord so that He will take the snakes away from us.” And Moses interceded for the people.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake [image] and mount it on a pole. When anyone who is bitten looks at it, he will recover.” So Moses made a bronze snake and mounted it on a pole. Whenever someone was bitten, and he looked at the bronze snake, he recovered. Numbers 21:4-9.
God’s people are traveling in the wilderness with Moses as their leader and God as their guide. At one point they experience victory over their enemies and are grateful; yet, only for a moment does gratitude express their character. When their journey becomes hard, and they become impatient with the journey, their true character of discord rears its ugly head. They speak against God and his servant Moses. They complain. They see their situation as plight and peril instead of provision and protection. It’s their impatience that sets all of this off. It’s their distorted and limited perspective that makes them who they are.
They only see what they don’t have instead of seeing that the God of the universe, His very Presence is with them. That God, Himself, who is all-wise, loving and wonderful has their best interest at hand.
Because God is not divisive or unchanging, His love and His justice work together for the good of humanity. He works to transform them into the image of His Son, Jesus; He knows that to be transformed into the image of His son is to be free from the bondage of this dreadful divergent mortality. God’s justice teaches a man to relinquish his faulty character and redress with God’s unwavering righteousness. The first step in this refinement is to experience a just hardship.
It’s easy to look at this people and see their failings. They are not alone. We tend to move from gratitude to ingratitude in just a moment of discomfort.
It starts with our impatience as it did for these people. When life is comfortable, we are content. We are happy, positive, entertained and proceeding. But the very minute the journey becomes hard to travel, our character changes. How do we overcome such a see-saw condition?
There are four things we must realize to be overcomers in our present deplorable condition:
1.) Hardship teaches. Notice that the Israelites immediately became repentant after the snakes arrived! There is nothing like the hardships of life that will humble us and cause us to look up instead of within.
When we start to focus only on ourselves and our “entitled needs” we become that person I described earlier: divisive, complicated, conflicted and adulterous. And all this causes deep discontent, anger, frustration, and anxiety within our heart. God sees this happening and what does He do? He sends us a just hardship. He does not want you and me to stay where we are.
It is true, we will never be fully free from our condition while living on earth. But we can make great strides of change if we choose to learn and persevere from the hardships God sends and allows in our life.
2.) Praying changes everything. Immediately the Israelites asked Moses to intercede for them. They knew all too well that if they cried out to God that His character of forgiving love would come forth. For God cannot be just and loving without also being forgiving. Hence as Tozer noted earlier, “He does not divide Himself to perform work, but works in the total unity of His being.”
He does not send hardships because He is suddenly frustrated with us, but instead because He loves us and wants to help. God knows that our impatience will cause us to make unwise decisions in life. Our impatience is often our unwillingness to learn His ways His way. But when we pray, He is generous to give us wisdom and set us aright. Turn your impatience into prayer and see the Lord do a bright work in you.
3.) God always has a plan for good. God brings healing on the heels of hardship. His plans to humble us also include His plan to exalt us. His design is to “rescue us from the miry mud; and not let us sink” (Psalm 69:14).
Trust His plan for you. His timing is for your good. As hard as it is to wade through the wilderness at a pace that seems like it’s taking forever, it’s the journey that teaches us so much. When God is ready to give you the promise land, remember that the journey will prepare you to enjoy the land at your fullest potential.
4.) Not all will learn and change. Notice in Numbers that some of the Israelites died from the snake bites. Their impatience killed their dream to see the Promiseland. Their demise is a lesson to us. Their unwillingness to learn from the journey and the hardship of life kept them from experiencing the land of God’s grace.
We can see this end, too, if we are not careful. We may not die as those in or passage today, but we can live like we are dead. We can get angrier, more depressed and ungrateful as we focus more on our impatience for what is to come. We can miss so much good in the journey when we let our impatience get the best of us.
Let me ask you a few questions that only you can answer:
Is your faith journey causing you to be impatient?
Do you want to see God’s promises come true for you?
Are you willing to be grateful for God’s presence, protection and provision that He has given you today while you wait for what He has promised you?
Are you praying? Are you praying and believing?
James 1:6-7 says to, “ask (God) in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”
May I recommend something to you?
Do not trust your impatience. It will deceive you. Trust in our harmonious God who will work for you with all unity. He is trustworthy and faithful, He is also stable and supporting. He looks for the person who will trust Him fully.
God wants to give you the desires of your heart, but take note of this, His answers as Tozer says it, “don’t always lie on the surface. They must be sought by prayer, by long meditation on the written Word, and by earnest and well-disciplined labor. However brightly the light may shine, it can be seen only by those who are spiritually prepared to receive it.’”
Allow God to do His work in you!