I don’t know about you, but Numbers has rarely been my “go-to” for a good word in the morning… But this passage, from The Mockingbird Devotional, seems fitting for a sleepy Monday. With their eyes on the land of Canaan, the Israelites begin doubting (yet again!) God’s providence. Commentary by Javier Garcia:

Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored… All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” (Numbers 13:30-14:4, NIV)

Someone once said to me, “We are a Numbers people,” and it couldn’t be truer. Before diving into Numbers, God’s promises to Abraham are becoming a reality in the history of Israel. From the barren womb of Sarah, God brings and preserves His people through bondage and exile. His faithfulness being unwavering and creative, He displays his love and trustworthiness by commissioning Moses to free the Israelites from slavery. Despite the Red Sea rescue and all the wondrous signs, the Israelites grumble and complain: they don’t like the food God provides in the desert and so they demand quail; they reminisce about the wonderful days of slavery in Egypt with a twisted sort of nostalgia; they try to impeach Moses. All the while, God patiently continues carrying out His plan. He sends spies to scope out the Promised Land and, instead of trusting God’s provision, the spies insist it is impossible and plot a plan B.

We are still a Numbers people to the very core. We seem to know only how to forget God’s provision. We lambast His promises and shake our fists, having our own idea of how we think it ought to go. We cannot bear a sustenance that does not fit our neat little pictures of sustenance. To put it simply, we trust ourselves more than we trust God. Although “the righteous shall live by faith,” God’s promises always seem laughable to us; our eyes blind us and our ears deafen us to the gracious absurdity of it all.

Although we writhe and wail with our Numbers disease, He stands true to His promises. He sent us Jesus Christ, providing the all-encompassing Yes to His wayward people. As with Abraham, our faith is all the righteousness we need. God did not condition His rescue promise on the proper conduct of His people, but ordained His rescue before we even misbehaved. Take comfort, then, if you are worried because you seem to have forgotten God, if you think your mistakes will exclude you from the promise. God is greater than your memory, and His patient promise endures above and beyond your hesitations and reservations. Be consoled when you don’t understand what is going on in your life or how God can be sovereign over it: spies spitting in the face of God’s promises do not stop God from doing what He will.

Look to Christ the babe. Look to his cross. The Lord provides solace, perhaps in the most surprising of ways. He is the guarantor of your life now and forever. Nothing can stop Christ and his faithfulness to his promise—not even you.