Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining. – Exodus 16:9
Have you ever felt “hangry” before? You know when you are starving, and you get just a bit grumpy, and you’re ready to snap at anyone who gets in your way. But then all it takes is some food in your belly to get you back to normal.
In the reading this week from Exodus, the Israelites are hangry and can’t seem to get satisfied. Their newfound freedom from slavery in Egypt has not quite done it for them. It had been two months since their great escape from Egypt, and the people were irritable and complained: "What’s next? What are we going to eat? How are we going to make it?"
The desert wilderness can take many forms, including a family crisis, loss of relationship, a health crisis, disappointment of a community, or even a question that challenges our assumptions of faith or belief. Our world begins to change and perhaps even falls apart. And yet, as with every wilderness experience as Israel will soon discover, there is also the possibility of eventually finding the "Promised Land"-- Hope Rising.
But for now, the people of Israel are stuck in their old way of thinking. And by now, the food supplies that they brought from Egypt were depleted. They longed for the "good old days" and accused Moses of bringing them into the desert "to starve them to death." They began to complain about their challenging situation.
We are not quite ourselves when we're hangry, and the Israelites couldn’t take it anymore. They were at a tipping point. The Israelites were in a space that forced them to confront their hungers and their greatest fears.
Though we are not stuck physically in the middle of a desert wilderness, we all have tipping points. Those times of waiting and not knowing where our "next" is coming from are everywhere in life; they are inevitable.
And while in the desert or tipping point, the most common question we ask is: "Now what?," the Israelites wanted to "turn back" when the road ahead looked difficult, and their fears and hungers were exposed. Not only does God acknowledge the Israelites' need for food, but God also desires to transform them into a new people and community.
We aren't ourselves when we're hangry. Yet God is always faithful and can do anything, far more than we could ever ask or imagine. God even satisfies our hungers in the midst of our complaining. Amen.