One Thing that May Make You Doubt God’s Presence

The Sinai Wilderness reminds us God's presence among us doesn’t always prove itself by our standards.

We know intellectually that God is with us. But sometimes our emotions haven’t gotten the message yet. We look at our Bible and it doesn’t seem to match our lives.

One Thing that May Make You Doubt God's Presence

(Photo: Sinai mountains with book of Exodus. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

When our world screams that God isn’t with us, or that He doesn’t care, or that the way things are will never improve, we have to remember what caused the Hebrews of old to doubt the Lord’s presence.

A shift in our thinking can help connect our emotions to truth.

The Lord’s People Long Ago

Barely a month out of Egypt, God’s people began to complain to Moses at Rephidim, figuring Moses had led them out of slavery to kill them all with thirst. So Moses renamed the spot Meribah, meaning “quarreling,” and Massah, meaning “testing”—for there they tested the Lord.

The Sinai wilderness screamed that God wasn’t with them. After all, just look around! It’s terrible here.

Sinai desert

(Photo: Sinai desert. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

To answer the Israelites’ grumblings, the Lord told Moses, “I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” (Exodus 17:6).

In spite of the Israelites’ tendencies to complain, the Lord repeatedly provided:

  • fresh water
  • fresh meat
  • manna from heaven
  • even a day to rest

We read these accounts of the Hebrews’ complaints and shake our heads at their lack of faith. Why would they suppose the Almighty redeemed them from Egypt just to let them die in the wilderness?

Yet how many times do we waffle between faith and fear in the course of one day—much less a month?

The Lord’s People Today

The question from the Hebrews’ parched tongues often sums up our own expectations: “Is the LORD among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7). But let’s put this assumption to logic with 3 questions:

  • Must God really follow our rules?
  • Do our circumstances prove God’s faithfulness?
  • Do circumstances occur to prove our own faithfulness? (see Philippians 4:11-13). We put God to the test when we get these backward.

Are your emotions in the Sinai wilderness today? Remember that God’s presence among us doesn’t always prove itself by our standards.

The same Lord who gave the Israelites water from the rock also promises us, without exception, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20; see also 1 Cor. 10:4).

Tell me what you think: What helps you keep your focus when you’re in the wilderness? To leave a comment, just click here.

Going Places with God- A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the BibleLike This Post? Get the Whole Book!

This post is adapted from Wayne’s book, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands of the Bible.
• These 90 devotional readings, each based on a specific place in the lands of the Bible, will help you apply the truths of God’s Word to your daily journey of faith.
• You’ll enjoy pertinent Scripture, inspirational quotes, photographs, maps, and a daily prayer.

After going places with God, you’ll never be the same.


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I'd love to hear your thoughts. Just keep it kind and relevant. Thanks!

  • Sheila

    The one thing I find that I might complain about, because I do not understand fully, Gods timing in things, IS  His timing!! I don’t like to complain, I know it does not please Father God, when we do as a people! But timing is important, and its something He controls, not us, and it all works out for His glory when it comes according to  HIS will and way! Just sometimes the wait can seem unbearably long…………..Thank you Jesus, for your love and mercy, and grace, long suffering and patience, Kindness, and gentleness!! And yes, sometimes that correction that brings conviction to our hearts… me not to complain about your timing in things Lord!! YOUR will be done.

    •  Hi, Sheila. No doubt, waiting on God may be the hardest part of the Christian life. I have a podcast on it here that might encourage you: Thanks for your comment.

      • Joel

        Thanks, Wayne. An afterthought: I wonder what happened to the British “stiff upper lip,” their renown stoicism in the face of difficulties. It seems to be a thing of the past.

        • Joel

          Oops – wrong thread. Sorry.

  • Joel

    Complaining is a national pass-time in the UK (where I live). It’s almost anti-social here NOT to ‘whinge’ (as the Brits call it). It’s considered a virtue in this country, it seems. It becomes such a habit that it’s hard to catch yourself doing it after living here for a while; but it’s really affected me and I wish I could stop it. (Prayers gratefully accepted.)

    •  I know what you mean, Joel. Whinging isn’t what we call it here in the USA, but it’s still what we do. It’s almost as if we try to find common ground on talking about what is wrong rather than what is right. Praying for you to start a new trend of gratitude. 🙂

  • I think my impatience makes me complain the most

    • That’s an insightful connection, Tyler, between impatience and complaining. I’m always amazed at how one sin causes/affects another.

  • Lynn

    Thanks for posting this, Wayne! I stand in awe of God’s timing….needed this today! 

    • Thank you, Lynn. Yes! His timing is always perfect. But it seems I often only see that after the fact. Waiting is tough. 🙂

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  • Suzanne

    Thank you for this. Right here in the thick of this right now. Waiting and waiting…
    wondering if and when things will happen even though I continually pray. Have also wondered about the presence during this time. What a much needed post.

    • You’re welcome, Suzanne. Waiting on God is, I’m convinced, one of the greatest challenges God calls us to. But it is so worth it—even if what we’re waiting for ultimately comes in glory. Never doubt His goodness. We have to trust that if we knew what God knows, we would want things to go exactly as they are. I’m right there with you in the challenge that kind of faith requires.