Have you ever found yourself “between a rock and a hard place”? That’s a situation where it appears as if some very bad things are about to happen in your life, but there seems to be little you can do to avert the calamity. You can’t see any way out of your threatening circumstances.
That’s the kind of situation in which the children of Israel found themselves in Exodus chapter 14. Moses had brought them out of their slavery in Egypt, only to lead them into what seemed like a trap at the Red Sea. The sea was in front of them, and the Egyptian army was coming up behind with violence on its mind, intent on re-enslaving them. The people were trapped between the two – almost literally between a rock and a hard place.
Their first reaction was to cry out to the Lord (Exodus 14:10), which was the absolute best thing they could have done. But they quickly moved from that to a more typical reaction – they started complaining about their situation, and looking for someone to blame.
Exodus 14:11-12 (NKJV) Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”
Complaining and blaming are very natural human reactions when we face seemingly out-of-control circumstances. In fact, they are as old as the human race itself. When God confronted Adam about his having eaten of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, Adam’s first response was to blame and complain:
Genesis 3:12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
In one stroke, Adam blamed his wife for his sin, and complained about God having given her to him!
But blaming and complaining never help us actually deal with difficult circumstances. For one thing, it only increases our depression.
Psalm 77:3b . . . I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.
Complaining and blaming in the midst of our difficulties is a very natural reaction, but a deadly one. By increasing our sense of being overwhelmed, it robs us of the ability to take God-directed action to overcome our circumstances.
But that’s not the worst of it. There is an even more compelling reason why we need to avoid blaming and complaining when we face challenges in our lives: complaining and blaming actually help keep us trapped in our predicament. But that’s a story for another day.