Relying on God Through our Frustration
Everyone at some point is going to feel irritated and this is not sin. As emotions rise, however, it will be tempting to prioritize satisfying them over acting in a pleasing manner to God. When we let frustration distract our hearts from God and negatively change our actions then that is sinful. We do not have to lose hope though, even Moses, one of God’s most beloved servants struggled with abating his frustration.
In Exodus 19, the Lord commanded Moses to go to the top of Mount Sinai to hear all of the rules that the people of Israel should follow. In chapter 20, Moses receives the Ten Commandments from God written on two stone tablets. After the Commandments were given, the Israelites trembled in fear because there was lightning, smoke, and loud sounds coming from the top of the mountain. Moses then said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” (Exodus 20:20) However, soon after God tested the Israelites they had decided to break the first commandment.[i]
By Exodus 32:1, the Israelites were beginning to doubt that Moses would ever return from the mountain. So the people gathered together and said to Aaron the priest, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” The Israelites began worshipping the golden calf that Aaron created, saying, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:8) When the Lord saw what the Israelites had done, He became angry and desired to burn them, so He could start a new nation of Israel from Moses.
In Exodus 32:12-13 Moses responded to the Lord saying, “Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people.” The Lord abated from His anger, but then Moses went down from mount Sinai to confront the people about their sin as the Lord commanded. However, as soon as he approached the Israelites He saw them worshipping the calf and he let his frustration turn to anger. In his anger, Moses took the commandments in His hands and shattered them against the base of Mount Sanai. He then smelted the golden calf, ground it into a powder, scattered it a top of water and made the people drink it all.
Due to the actions taken from his anger, God had to help Moses remake the tablets of the commandments in Exodus 34. Moses’ struggles with his frustration and anger do not just end with the Israelites at Mount Sinai. In Exodus 2, it was probably frustration and anger that drove Moses to kill the Egyptian that was striking the Hebrew. Frustration and anger are also what most likely drove Moses disobey the Lord at Meribah by striking the rock twice saying, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:1-13)
Even though Moses had spiritual setbacks due to his frustration and anger, he never stopped doing his best to worship the Lord and be in His grace. After the remaking of the Ten Commandment tablets, Exodus 34:8-9 read, “And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.” After being baptized to become God’s children, we all have the ability to pray to Him through Jesus and repent of our mistakes. By choosing to repent and rely on God’s strength going forward, we can then make sure we do not repeat the same mistakes. That way the Lord can guide us to our eternal inheritance, as He did with His beloved servant Moses.
[i] “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”