The account of the Hebrews’ grumbling and the punishment of the seraph serpents is just one of many in the Old Testament that recount how hard life in the desert must have been. The plagues that God used to convince Pharaoh to let his people go must have been dramatic—almost as dramatic as the parting of the Red Sea that had sealed their freedom from slavery. The Hebrews were the beneficiaries of many displays of divine power, so you can understand their puzzlement at the plague that God seemed to have unleashed on them. In Egypt, God had taken care of everything so that he could bring them unharmed into the Promised Land. But now things seemed radically different.
Throughout the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, we see that the journey to the Promised Land was very difficult—and not just because of the harshness of the desert. It was hard because it called for the people’s full cooperation with God. How challenging it must have been once the people realized that God was not going to take care of their every problem. It must have been shocking indeed to discover that they needed to put aside their grumblings, work together, and obey God’s commandments.
Like the Hebrews, we too face challenges and difficulties—trials that call for deep trust and cooperation with God. So, how do we react to these trials? Do we lose hope, get impatient, maybe even grumble and complain? Or do we look to the Cross and stand firm in our faith in God’s plan for us and the victory that he has won for us?