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"When the Going Gets Tough . . .

Exodos 16:2

Pastor James F. Wright

Pentecost 10, Proper 13, series B
Immanuel Lutheran Church  
Altamont, IL

Sun, Aug 5, 2012 

Help me out by finishing this well known proverbs:

Blood is thicker than (Water).

Don't count your chickens before (they hatch).

When life gives you lemons, (make lemonade).

When the going gets tough, ( the tough get going.)

What does that last one mean? At first thought we would say that when a situation gets difficult, people who are strong and enduring will become fully engaged. We won't shrug and walk away from a problem, but we'll decide on a course of action and work towards solving that problem.

There's another way to explain this statement. "Those who act tough and proud will vacate a situation when it becomes difficult so they are not be proven not as tough as they appear to be."

That's what almost happened to God's people when He saved them from slavery. Four hundred years under Pharoah, making bricks from mud. They cried out to God, and he saved them. Ten plagues. Walking through the midst of deep water on dry ground. Seeing the pursuing Egyptians perishing beneath the waves behind th*em. When they were thirsty, God turned the bitter spring waters into fresh water when Moses simply threw a log into it. Truly, they saw some spectacular miracles that would make believers of anyone, even the skeptics of today.

So they're out in the wilderness and getting hungry, and the people say, "It would have been better if we had stayed in Egypt and died there, rather than die of starvation out here." What were they saying? Did they really think God went to all that trouble to save them, just to let them die of starvation? I'm sure they were worried about what they would have for supper, with no crops growing around them, but where was their faith? We might modify the proverb to say, When the going gets tough, the Israelites go home to slavery.

I imagine you're thinking, "If I had seen all those miracles, I would trust God and keep following Him no matter what. Not even hunger would drive me away from trusting God." Why is it, then, that you worry and fret about things that are not under your control? Why do you get so stressed about things? Don't you believe that God is in control of all things?

We say, "It's different for us. We haven't seen those miracles that the Israelites have. We don't have a guy like Moses who speaks with God. We just have the Bible, and church services. Yet we have more than they did.

They didn't have the Bible yet. Moses hadn't yet written the first five books. All they had were the stories of their ancestors, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They didn't yet have Isaiah or Jeremiah, or the twelve apostles. They didn't have Jesus feeding the five thousand, or dying on the cross. All they had was Moses and the memory of how God had solved their problems in the past. We have more reasons to believe than they did. Still do not believe.

Sometimes God lets us get hungry so we will learn to pray. The Small Catechism says on the Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer, God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.

God is so good to us. Most of the time we eat our food and don't think anything about it, except when it is something we don't like. The habit of praying before eating to give thanks to God for every morsel is disappearing from the American family. Children are ignorant of where food comes from. We have an obesity epidemic. One bad season, one lost harvest could change all this, when food is no longer abundant and we must pay dearly for it. Yet we continue on, unthankful and demanding, like the Israelites of old.

God fed them anyway. They wanted to go back to Egypt, but God brought the food right to them. He sent manna, those flakes that fell like snow at night and were ready to gather and eat in the morning. This happened for forty years, right up to the time they came to the promised land.

God continues to feed us as well, even though we grumble against him and refuse to trust him. Jesus reminds us that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. He said it was not Moses who gave the manna, but His Father who gives the true bread from heaven. The bread of God is the one who came down from heaven and gives life to the world.

I've never had a day in my life where I went hungry. He's always provided for me. Yet I continue to worry about things and refuse to put my trust in Him. You are the same way. It is Jesus who says to us both, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst."

When I get worried and discontented with the life God gives me, I go over to the nursing home and see my friends there. They are always glad and smile. "Hello Pastor!" they say. They can't get out of bed, and yet they are thankful to God that He takes care of all their needs. What right do I have to complain about anything?

Jesus accepts sinners like us. He takes all our gripes and complaining, and our worried souls. And he simply says, "Trust me."

Where does he say this? Psalm 27:1-3 "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident." Isaiah 41:10 "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

The real danger is that our sins will come back to haunt us, and they will cast us into hell. But the Lord has taken care of that by his death on the cross and his rising from the dead. We shall be his forever. The bread and wine of the Lord's Supper are his promise that He is watching over us. "When the going gets tough, the tough call on the name of the Lord, and they are saved." Amen.

Copyright 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.

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