By Fr Robert Barron (

We’ve seen how Abraham and Joseph were compelled to wait on God, but today we turn to their descendants.

The people of Israel were miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt, led across the Red Sea by the mighty hand of Moses – and then they waited. A journey that normally would have taken only a few weeks stretched to 40 years as they wandered rather aimlessly through the desert.

The book of Exodus frequently gives us indications of what this time of vigil was like: “The people grumbled against Moses, ‘We are disgusted with this wretched food… Why did you lead us out into this desert to die? Were there not graves enough in Egypt?'” (Exodus 16:2-3) They were hardly models of patience.

Eventually, though, once their grumbling ceased and they developed a firm trust in God, their sojourn ended and they were welcomed to the Promised Land.

In the spiritual life, we often yearn to advance deeper in prayer or wisdom. Yet it’s only when we cease grumbling about our shortcomings and difficulties that God answers our waiting with his presence.