One Thing that May Make You Doubt God’s Presence

The Sinai Wilderness reminds us God's presence among us doesn’t always prove itself by our standards.

We know intellectually that God is with us. But sometimes our emotions haven’t gotten the message yet. We look at our Bible and it doesn’t seem to match our lives.

One Thing that May Make You Doubt God's Presence

(Photo: Sinai mountains with book of Exodus. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

When our world screams that God isn’t with us, or that He doesn’t care, or that the way things are will never improve, we have to remember what caused the Hebrews of old to doubt the Lord’s presence.

A shift in our thinking can help connect our emotions to truth.

The Lord’s People Long Ago

Barely a month out of Egypt, God’s people began to complain to Moses at Rephidim, figuring Moses had led them out of slavery to kill them all with thirst. So Moses renamed the spot Meribah, meaning “quarreling,” and Massah, meaning “testing”—for there they tested the Lord.

The Sinai wilderness screamed that God wasn’t with them. After all, just look around! It’s terrible here.

Sinai desert

(Photo: Sinai desert. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

To answer the Israelites’ grumblings, the Lord told Moses, “I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” (Exodus 17:6).

In spite of the Israelites’ tendencies to complain, the Lord repeatedly provided:

  • fresh water
  • fresh meat
  • manna from heaven
  • even a day to rest

We read these accounts of the Hebrews’ complaints and shake our heads at their lack of faith. Why would they suppose the Almighty redeemed them from Egypt just to let them die in the wilderness?

Yet how many times do we waffle between faith and fear in the course of one day—much less a month?

The Lord’s People Today

The question from the Hebrews’ parched tongues often sums up our own expectations: “Is the LORD among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7). But let’s put this assumption to logic with 3 questions:

  • Must God really follow our rules?
  • Do our circumstances prove God’s faithfulness?
  • Do circumstances occur to prove our own faithfulness? (see Philippians 4:11-13). We put God to the test when we get these backward.

Are your emotions in the Sinai wilderness today? Remember that God’s presence among us doesn’t always prove itself by our standards.

The same Lord who gave the Israelites water from the rock also promises us, without exception, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20; see also 1 Cor. 10:4).

Tell me what you think: What helps you keep your focus when you’re in the wilderness? To leave a comment, just click here.


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This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the Bible.
• These 90 devotional readings, each based on a specific place in the lands of the Bible, will help you apply the truths of God’s Word to your daily journey of faith.
• You’ll enjoy pertinent Scripture, inspirational quotes, photographs, maps, and a daily prayer.

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