At the beginning of Moses’ ministry, God made him a promise: “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12). At his retirement, 40 years later it was said of him, “And there has not arisen a prophet . . . like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the LORD sent him to do” (Deuteronomy 34:10-12).
So from the beginning to the end of his ministry God had been with him. God had never left Moses alone. In the middle of his ministry; however, weary from the complaints of the people, Moses does not acknowledge God’s promise. He leans instead into what he’s feeling.
Moses said to the LORD, “Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? . . . I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me [emphasis added] (Numbers 11:11-14).
Was Moses really alone or did he just feel alone? Had God not kept his promise?
God had kept his promise. Moses only felt alone, but he spoke about it as if it were a substantiated fact. Had he used God’s promises as his basis of truth, he would have endured those strong external and internal forces without succumbing to self-pity.
Years ago I memorized the following poem that has helped clarify this idea. In the poem interpret fact as God’s promises.
Three men were walking on a wall,
Feeling, Faith, and Fact;
Feeling had an awful fall,
And Faith was taken back.
But Fact remained and pulled Faith though
And Faith brought Feeling too.
If Moses hadn’t cut himself free from the anchor of God’s promise to him, perhaps his prayer might have sounded something like this: “God, I feel really alone right now. The people are complaining, they don’t like what you’re serving, and they insist that I do something about it. But even though I feel alone, I will cling to your promise that “you will always be with me.” Please strengthen me so that I don’t waver in my belief.”
For me, the prayer of faith always brings clarity. It is my self-pity that brings confusion. God made the same promise to us he made to Moses. In the New Testament we read, “‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say. ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:6)
God’s truth doesn’t waver; I can’t say the same for my feelings.