Is Unhappiness a Choice?

And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the LORD, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection. I the LORD have spoken this. I will surely do so to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.’ ” (Numbers 14:26-35)

Sometimes people just don’t want to be happy. The Israelites never faced a crisis without panicking. Rather than thinking that God would take care of them as he had in all the previous crises, they instead assumed the worst. Rather than embracing the challenge, they rejected hope. As nice as the Promised Land might be, they decided it was simply impossible to get. Surely God had brought them this far just to kill them.

Given that time after time they had responded with the same thought, that they were in the wilderness to die, God finally decided to grant them what so obviously was their fondest desire. They thought they were going to die? Then fine, they could die. They would stay in the wilderness until the last of their ungrateful generation had succumbed to old age. Only then, would their children and their descendents after them get to enter the place God had promised to give them. God would fulfill his word—and he would fulfill their word too.

It is very human to assume the worst when facing a crisis. But it is both irrational and ungrateful to assume that God won’t take care of us.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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