"The people complained against God and Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water?’" – Nm. 21:5

In today’s reading, the Israelite are in the middle of their journey from Egyptian slavery to inheritance of the Promised Land. Even though they were oppressed by the Egyptians, they were angry at God and Moses for leading them away from slavery into the unknown. “It would have been better to be slaves to the Egyptians than to die in the desert (Ex. 14:12),” even if they were promised a far more flourishing life than slavery. For the Israelite, the evil they knew was more attractive than the promise they do not know.

Our lives may contain many such instances when an invitation to the great unknown requires us to give up the comfort of mediocrity. Perhaps we may have a career that does not bring us joy, or even worse, drains our spirit. Our thought process may play out, “But, it pays the bills… I should be grateful to even have a job… I shouldn’t be greedy and desire a more fulfilling profession.” Maybe we mustered up the courage to initiate a career change. The transition to that dream job may be drawn out and discouraging. We start to doubt, “Did I make the right decision?” Like the Israelite, we say, “It would have been better to toil at my stable job than this hippie ‘discover myself’ path.”

This may even manifest itself in our relationships. We may be comfortable with our romantic partner because we have so much history and so much invested. However, maybe there is a doubt because deep down our romantic relationship does not lead us to greater life, freedom, generosity, and authenticity. “But what if I leave my partner, and I stay single and lonely forever?” Again, we may summon up the courage to greater life and then later become anxious and restless with being single. “Better to be with anyone, especially someone I was comfortable with, than to die alone.”

God wants to see us fully alive and flourishing as He originally created us to be. However, we sometimes want to control our situation because it is difficult to relinquish what we know, or we get attached to our comfort and find it terrifying to discover a new life. The story of the Israelite is our story and our invitation to let go and wait in trust in God’s promise to greater life.

Generous Father, thank you for all your gifts. Help me to not become too attached to them so that when you offer a greater gift, I may receive it with free hands.

Michael Jamnongjit