Fear overcame them, and with wide eyes and gaping mouths, they did what many of them had learned to do best: they whined! As Pharaoh charged toward them, the people turned toward Moses and, freaking out, said, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?" (Exodus 14:11).
Can you imagine? At the moment they needed help, instead of being patient and waiting for the Lord to work miracles, they whined. They could have approached Moses and asked him what they could do. They could have started swimming across the Red Sea. They could have begun chucking chickens at Pharaoh and his army. But they complained instead. It was something they had perfected in Egypt.
How often in life do we do the same thing? When life gets a little tough, or things aren't going the way we think they should go, we murmur and complain, hoping that somehow through our whining things will get better. Or that someone will pay attention to us or feel bad for us.
So why did Israel complain? For the same reason we complain today. They didn't trust God. Because the signs of the Second Coming are already taking place, we may start to become a little like the Israelites. "Oh no! What are we gonna do? We're all going to die!" I hope by this point you know that's not true. But like Israel, we may have a tendency to fall back on what we're familiar with when tough times come. How do I know? Well, when you have to do the dishes, do you whine and complain about it? When you have to mow the lawn, do you feel that the world has ended? When you have to do homework, do you complain?
Amidst today's wars and rumors of wars, do you do the same? Or do you have a quiet confidence in knowing that the prophesied signs are being fulfilled? When earthquakes shake your world and tidal waves wash upon you, will you run around (or swim around) wishing someone would stop them? Or do you understand the reason for these events, knowing that God is trying to get his rebellious children to repent?
When the Israelites came running to Moses, he had an incredible response. "Fear ye not, stand still [they must have been jumping up and down in a panicked frenzy], and see the salvation of the Lord. . . . The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace" (Exodus 14:13-14). In other words, Moses knew that the Lord would take care of them. Because they were doing what they had been commanded and were following God's prophet out of Egypt, Moses knew God would bless them. And he did.
In these last days it may seem that evil is winning. We hear the rumble of its influence coming in the distance. We see the chariots of wickedness racing ever closer through the media and the internet. We see the spears of Satan pointing directly at us. But we can fight back with faith, hope, and trust. Remember, God is in charge. It's up to us to fear not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.
I love what the Lord told the Israelites to do next. He didn't part the Red Sea at first. He told Moses to command them to "go forward" (Exodus 14:15). Before God would do his great miracle, the Israelites had to step forward with faith. Then the miracle came. The angel of God stopped the Egyptians and the wind blew all night, parting the sea and clearing a path for the Israelites. Without further questions or complaints, the Israelites walked forward.
We need to understand that this is what God expects of us. Even though situations are difficult and life seems hard, we need to go forward so that God can work his miracles. Have a good attitude about things, speak positively of others, and serve the best you can. Change your negative thoughts to thoughts of faith. God will fight your battles for you, but you must be willing to show him that you trust him.
Another aspect of trusting in the Lord is enduring to the end. That sounds tough, like sitting through the ACT. Elder Henry B. Eyring said, "Simply enduring may seem almost beyond us. That's what the words in the scripture `Ye must . . . endure to the end' seemed to mean to me when I first read them. It sounded grim, like sitting still and holding on to the arms of the chair while someone pulled out my tooth" ("In the Strength of the Lord," Ensign, May 2004, 17). I'm sure the Israelites felt that way as they wandered through the wilderness for forty years.
As we approach the Second Coming, we will see many people lose faith and endurance. They will give in to pornography or immorality without any thought of repentance. Remember that this life is a test, and the Lord wants to see if we will be worthy to be among those who are caught up to meet him when he comes again.
Elder Eyring continued: "The test a loving God has set before us is not to see if we can endure difficulty. It is to see if we can endure it well. We pass the test by showing that we remembered him and the commandments He gave us. And to endure well is to keep those commandments whatever the opposition, whatever the temptation, and whatever the tumult around us. We have that clear understanding because the restored gospel makes the plan of happiness so plain" ("In the Strength of the Lord," Ensign, May 2004, 17).
You can trust the Lord. You can faithfully endure to the end. God has given you the power to do so. He won't give you commandments you can't keep (1 Nephi 3:7). You must be positive even though life may be difficult.
I conclude this chapter with one of my favorite stories. Written by Tim Hansel, it's about being positive and trusting the Lord. It's called "The Road of Life."
At first, I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president.What a great time to live! What exciting opportunities we have to prove our love for the Lord! Trust that he knows what he's doing. Lift up your head, look toward the horizon, and pedal.
But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal.
I don't know just when it was that He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since. When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. . . . It was the shortest distance between two points.
But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains and through rocky places at breakneck speeds, it was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!"
I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer, and I started to learn to trust.
I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I'd say, "I'm scared," He'd lean back and touch my hand.
He took me to people with gifts that I neededgifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me gifts to take on my journey, my Lord's and mine.
And we were off again. He said, "Give the gifts away; they're extra baggage, too much weight." So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light.
I did not trust Him, at first, in control of my life. I thought He'd wreck it; but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, knows how to fly to shorten scary passages.
And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.
And when I'm sure I just can't do any more, He just smiles and says, "Pedal." (Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart, 586-87)