Summary: Our impatience stands in stark contrast to the patience of God who gently woos us to live in anticipation of his grace.

Title: Grumbling Before a Gracious God

Text: Exodus 17:1-7

Thesis: Our impatience stands in stark contrast to the patience of God who gently woos us to live in anticipation of his grace.

Lenten Series: Reflecting, Repenting and Returning to God

The Lenten Season is a time for reflection, repenting of our sin and returning to God. During Lent we confront the presence of evil in the world, the reality of temptation and human sinfulness. However, it is in acknowledging human sinfulness and the need for repentance that we find our way to return to God who is merciful and gracious.


The Fiddler on the Roof follows the life of a poor Jewish dairy farmer named Tevye. Tevye had a wife and five daughters and his story is set in the Ukraine during the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. It’s an old story but we can relate.

In one scene Tevye is pulling both his old horse and the milk wagon in an attempt to get home before the start of the Sabbath. He looked up to heaven and said, “Ah God, was that necessary? Did you have to make my horse lame just before that Sabbath. That wasn’t nice. It’s enough that you pick on me. You bless me with a wife, five daughters and a life of poverty. That’s all right, but what do you have against my horse?” (Fiddler on the Roof, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, 1971

I don’t think Tevye is all that different than any of us. There were times in his life that he felt like he deserved better…

People tend to complain when they feel entitled.

I. When people have a sense of entitlement they become impatient.

The people set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Exodus 17:-2

Most people have expectations. For some the bar is higher than it is for others, but we all have expectations. The Israelites had been road for a few days and they were traveling in mass. From the perspective of a global satellite they probably looked like an army of ants moving across the desert.

When Bonnie and I travel together we always try to stay in comfortable accommodations and we have found that Hampton Inns and Holiday Inn Expresses are good. They are generally newer. They have spacious rooms and great beds. The bathrooms are sparkling clean. The towels are big and fluffy. They have Wi-Fi connections and good breakfasts with good coffee included in the rate. When I travel alone I am likely to stay a roach inn… I don’t pay much and I don’t expect much. But I still like for it to be clean and have a door with a lock and inside plumbing.

But imagine the Israelites… traveling without even the benefit of a seedy, flea-bag, roach inn. They obviously had fairly low expectations but they did expect that wherever they stopped for the night, there should at least be water.

They were entitled to water.

A. People grumble when they feel entitled.

Courtney Love was married to Curt Cobaine, leader of the band known as Nirvana. However Courtney Love is a rock star in her own right. Courtney Love was on the front cover of Rolling Stone Magazine in 1998. She enjoys the privileges that go with wealth and fame.

On one occasion she was charged with disorderly conduct for hitting one of her fans with a microphone stand and had to make a court appearance.

On the day of her appearance a black stretch limo dropped her off in front of the Manhattan Criminal Court Building. Assuming privilege she attempted to bypass the security line but was stopped by security and told to take her turn in line and to pass through the detector like everyone else.

Courtney was not happy and in her comments to a reporter at the scene said, “The guy wants me to stand in line with everybody else. I’m not everybody else.” (“Courtney Love Enters Plea, and Nobody Else Gets Hurt,” New York Times, 10/21/04)

When we have a sense of entitlement everybody else is everybody else… not us. We are special and as such, entitled to what we want when we want it and everyone else can stand in line.

What is amazing about our bible story today is that the Israelites had been slaves for hundreds of years. They were not entitled, as a people, in the land of Egypt… they served those who were entitled. But now they were the entitled.

When entitled people get impatient, they grumble.

B. People grumble when they are impatient.

Impatience is really about a sense of entitlement in regard to time. When we grumble we are demonstrating our impatience. Impatience is a time issue. The clock is ticking.

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