When Emotions Dictate Perspective

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Numbers 14:1-4 ESV

You can count on it every time. Fear and rampant emotions cloud clear thinking and good decisions. I wish that I could say the I was immune, but I realize that it can be the downfall of any of us if we are not careful. We see it when Moses was at his “breaking point” as a leader. The people in the their constant complaining wore him down to a point that it became overwhelming.

The bad report about the land of Canaan and the prospects of success wore down the people. Their fears and outlook became exaggerated in their minds and emotions took over. We it described in vivid terms. “…the congregation raise a loud cry….people wept that night.” After a restless night filled with fear and anxiety, the looked for the most convenient scape goat. They found one in Moses. In the response of the people, the faithless spies were heroes and Moses was the villain with evil intentions. This is one situation where the view of the “majority” was wrong and the “minority report” was the one representing the Lord’s will.

They accepted defeat before even trying to work up their courage and trust in God to fight. It is interesting that their proposal was to replace God’s theocracy with a democracy. They want to choose a leader whose campaign slogan was “back to Egypt and the good ole days of slavery.” You have to be pretty desperate or suffer from a short memory to desire whips on your back and hard labor over trust in an all-powerful God.

Then we see God was ready to go to “Plan B.” The Lord says to Moses, “I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.” (Numbers 14:12 ESV)

Moses in his meekness, intercedes for the people. The Lord listens to the intercession of Moses, pardons the people, but they still face the consequences of their unbelief. “Then the Lord said, “I have pardoned, according to your word…. But…none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it.” (Numbers 14:21-23 ESV)

In the end the grumbling Israelites received what they spoke. They refused to enter the land. They said it would be better to die in the wilderness and that is what happened. Forty years, one year for each day they would continue to travel in the wilderness until the generation of slaves all died and a new generation was prepared to enter into the land promised by the Lord to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Mass hysteria is difficult to control. But on an individual basis, it is important to get control of our emotions in critical times and to say even out loud, “STOP! Think!” We then can begin to refocus from a mind driven by fear and emotion to the promises and reality of God who is greater, bigger and stronger than that which confronts us. He is able to by His peace, “keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:8,9) Paul told the Corinthians, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ..” (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV) At times those “arguments…against the knowledge of God” can come from us as much as those outside of us.

Prayer for today….. Lord how easy it is for our emotions to take control and to dictate the direction and perspective of our situation. Enable us by Your Spirit to have a “time out” in order to allow You to speak to our hearts and to quiet the run-a-way thoughts and wrong conclusions that our fears, frustrations and disappointments would drive us to.