Based on the Book of Exodus, chapter 17
[Some pictures, perhaps on PowerPoint, will help to illustrate this talk. It can be done without pictures, of course, but the text will need to be changed slightly. Children—and sometimes adults—can be invited to answer the questions.]
[Picture of little girl crying.] What is this little girl doing? Crying, yes. Anything else? Yes, looks like she’s whining. Anyone here a whiner? Maybe I should ask the parents! Maybe your parents should have a sign like this up in the house?! [Picture of “No whining” sign.]
Why do we whine? Usually because we can’t get what we want. But sometimes it’s because we’re worried. “I’m really, really hungry. When’s supper?” “Are we nearly there? I really really need the washroom!” Those are not just whines, those are worries. What kinds of thing do you worry about?
Look at these worried faces. [Picture of worried faces—perhaps the Israelites in the desert.] What does your face look like when you’re worried? If you are a child of God and a follower of Jesus, what do you do about your worries?
Here’s a story from the Old Testament, long before the time of Jesus. The people of Israel had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years, and then they were led to freedom by a man called (do you know?) . . . Moses. Then they had to cross a big desert in order to get to the country that would be their new home. So they set off.
But they hadn’t gone very far when they began to run out of water—and they got worried. So they went to Moses, and they complained: “We’re thirsty. We haven’t got enough water. You’re mean. You shouldn’t have brought us out here. We didn’t want to come here anyway.” Do they sound a bit whiny to you? They had forgotten how God had taken care of them up to this point.
So Moses goes off and prays: “Dear Lord, what am I supposed to do now?” And God said, “OK, make the people stay here, and you go in front of the people with some of the leaders. Take your stick in your hand. (I don’t know if you remember the story of how Moses parted the Red Sea so the people could go through? This was the very same stick that he struck the sea with! That was a clue that God was going to help them again.) There you will find a big rock, and I want you to hit the rock with your stick, and water will come out.”
That sounded pretty strange, but Moses knew he could trust God, so he found the rock, and hit it with his stick, and sure enough, lots and lots of water rushed out. And all the people danced for joy: they and water to drink, water for cooking, water for washing. They would be safe!!!
They didn’t need to worry or to whine because God loved them and would look after them. Do you know what Jesus said about worry?
Do not start worrying: ‘Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?’ (These are the things people who don’t know God are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things!
Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he wants you to do, and he will provide you with all these other things.
So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings!
So when you’re worried, don’t whine. Tell God about what is worrying you, and see what God does. Then your face will look like this . . . [Picture of little girl smiling.]