Survival by Numbers

Survival is the name of the game when faced by a disaster. It’s interesting how our dependence on God becomes finely tuned during these times. Many years ago I heard someone tell of the ‘rule of threes.’ That is, you are unlikely to survive if you go…

– 3 weeks without food
– 3 days without water
– 3 minutes without oxygen
This list is so simple, you’d probably consider it an urban myth. But that’s the way we often live our lives, not realizing our lives hang in such a fine balance. Most don’t even give it a thought that every day we rely on God’s grace and provision just to survive. Consider if you didn’t have food – water – or oxygen.
3 days without water
When Moses led Israel from the Red Sea after leaving Egypt, they went to the Desert of Shur. This parched land didn’t afford the massive troupe of refugees easy access to the basic elements that sustain life. It says in Exodus 15:22 that after three days of travel they become desperate for water. Arriving at Marah they found water but it was undrinkable. Even though it had only been a few days since they’d witnessed the miraculous parting of the waters of the Red Sea to aid their escape, they began grumbling because they felt abandoned by God. How quickly we forget how the Lord provides for us in times of need.
So Moses, probably frustrated because of the ungrateful nature of the Israelites, called out to God to do something. Isn’t it interesting how people do that; call out to God when they’re in trouble. It’s a natural response. The Lord showed Moses a piece of wood, so he threw it into the water, which made it sweet to drink. This act of God saved this wandering people from certain death.
3 weeks without food
Then, just a week later, the Israelites experienced ravenous hunger as they searched for food. They were into their sixth week in the desert and their supplies had given out. How short their memories where when they said, “If only we had died by the LORD’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” (Exodus 16:3)
Once again the Lord tested them by giving specific instructions “to go out each day and gather enough for that day.” The Lord wanted Israel to show their total reliance on Him for the provision of their daily needs. Gathering the manna daily, and not storing it, ensured that they gave thanks for what they received each and every day from God.
As the Israelites found out life is certainly a rollercoaster of ups and downs. It’s important to remember that God’s laws of nature don’t give us a free ride to easy street, they require us to rely on Him. We’ll all found ourselves in survival mode at some stage or another, and when that happens, the best option is to humble yourself, turn to God and wait on Him to get you through.
PS: I didn’t forget the 3 minutes without oxygen. Consider how long the fleeing Israelites would have lasted crossing the Red Sea if the waters had not been parted by our saving God.

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