Rick Warren: How God Is Faithful When We Are Forgetful

People can be forgetful, but God never is. (Pixabay.com)

Have you ever noticed how forgetful people can be? They quickly forget all the ways others have helped them in the past, and they end up complaining later on.

Children forget what their parents have done for them. Spouses take one another for granted. Bosses move on to other employees.

It's human nature.

Many pastors experience this firsthand. Despite years of faithful service, their congregations only remember the failures. These pastors work so hard, and no one seems to notice. Maybe this is the position you're in today. You're not alone. Moses also experienced this kind of disappointment.

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Just three days after Moses led God's people through the Red Sea—one of the greatest miracles in history—the Bible says, "The people grumbled against Moses, 'What are we going to drink?'" (Ex. 15:24, ESV). Israel was quick to forget what Moses had done for them.

At the first sign of trouble, the Israelites complained. Their motto during their time in the desert was: "When in doubt, grumble against Moses." One minute Moses was a hero, the next he was a zero.

We can learn a lot from how Moses dealt with their complaints.

First, we can learn from what Moses didn't do.

—Moses didn't curse his critics. He didn't retaliate or get revenge. You wouldn't blame Moses if he looked the Israelites in the eyes and said, "You guys can forget it! I led you through the Red Sea. I led you to freedom. You're out of Egypt. If that's the way you're going to treat me, forget it! Good luck finding your way back to Egypt. I'm going on to the promised land."But you don't find him saying that anywhere in the Bible.

We need to fight the urge to strike back when people disappoint us. Instead of retaliating, we must leave our pain in God's hands.

—Moses didn't rehearse the criticism. Rehearsing criticism is addictive—and it can kill your ministry. I've met plenty of people who have rehearsed disappointments so often that it dampens everything else that comes their way. Soon, they believe everyone is out to get them.

—Moses didn't nurse the criticism. He didn't take it personally. The Bible reminds us in Ephesians 4:26-27 (MEV): "Be angry but do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Do not give place to the devil." It's OK to be angry. Anger is a legitimate response to hurt. But the Bible says that when we hold onto anger, it becomes sin.

Second, we can learn from how Moses proactively dealt with disappointments.

—Disperse it. Moses could have cried out to the people, but instead, the Bible says he "cried to the Lord" (Ex. 15:25).

When you're disappointed by people in your church, it's tempting to take it out on them but don't do it. Instead you need to talk it out with the Lord.

—Let God reverse it. God is the master of reversing hurt. Disappointments are really "his-appointments". Romans 8:28 says, "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Nothing comes into the life of a child of God without the heavenly Father's permission.

God allows delays, difficulties and disappointments for his greater purposes. It doesn't surprise God when your congregation has forgotten all you've done before. Most of them have forgotten what He has done for them too.

The good news is, God provided a solution for Moses and the thirsty Israelites. In Exodus 15:25b, we learn that God showed Moses a piece of wood that became the answer to their problems, for "when he had thrown it into the waters, the waters were made sweet." Many of us get so caught up in the disappointments that we don't see the solutions right in front of us. Thankfully, God is always faithful even when we are forgetful.

With God's help, our disappointments can become opportunities to know and trust Him in a deeper way.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is the author of the New York Times' bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. Pastor Rick started The PEACE Plan to show the local church how God works through ordinary people to address the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease and illiteracy. You can listen to Daily Hope, Pastor Rick's daily 25-minute audio teaching, or sign up for his free daily devotionals at PastorRick.com. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global online community created to encourage pastors.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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