Jennifer Kim, a graduate of Boston University, spent a year in Shanghai as one-year intern from 2013-14. She is currently serving as a staff at Catalyst Agape Church (New Jersey) while attending Alliance Theological Seminary.
DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY
“Wasn’t It Supposed to Be the Land of Opportunity?”
They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” 4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.” 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?”
Several years ago, while I was serving a one-year internship in Shanghai, I met a young college student who was enamored at the idea of living in America. She believed that the US had everything that China could not offer her, and her ultimate goal was to live and work in “the land of opportunity.” At the time, I let her know that America was not the perfect nation she imagined it to be, and that her hope should not be in this American ideal. Although nothing I said seemed to change her mind, in hindsight, I realized I couldn’t blame her for having such thoughts. This idea was precisely what brought America to be the nation that it is today—an immigrant nation filled with individuals who believed that the United States would provide the economic stability and educational resources they desired. This is precisely why my parents moved to the US as well. Despite the language barrier and their economic situation, their belief in a better life propelled them to leave everything they knew and everything that was comfortable in order to move to the land of opportunity.
Today’s passage tells about the Israelites’ journey to their land of opportunity, the Promised Land. After being set free from slavery, the Israelites begin their journey to a place described as “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod. 3:17) in pursuit of God’s call to reside in the land promised to Abraham and his descendants in Genesis. Yet along the way, the lack of water and food lead the Israelites to grumble and cry out that death in Egypt would have been better than their current circumstances. Ultimately, they forget why they are on this journey and wish to return to their former state of slavery.
While it may be easy to criticize the Israelites, I can’t help but relate to all the times I too received a specific message from the Lord and ran with such fervor, only to find myself complaining and forgetting the promise given to me because the journey became too difficult. Oftentimes in our pursuit we lose our way as we get caught up in our struggles, and even worse, we desire to go back to what we’re used to. My parents had their fair share of difficulties while living in America as well, but what helped them persevere was remembering why they moved to the US. We are all on a journey that God has set before us, whether it’s a specific calling, vocation, or mission. Let’s take time today to reflect on where you are in this journey. If you’re struggling, remember the promises God has given you and why you are on this path in the first place. Jesus was on a journey too. His journey was to leave His throne and come into this world to bring healing and salvation to all. Let’s thank Him and remember that His plans for us are always good.
Prayer: God, thank You that Your love compelled Jesus on His journey to the cross that I may receive love and forgiveness. During the difficult times, help me to remember why I am on this journey and the promises You have declared over my life. I want to worship You in all circumstances! Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Deuteronomy 30-31