A Humorous Juxtaposition
By Anthony Casperson

The hero finally accepts the call to adventure. They run off with excitement. And think that everything’s going to be good on this grand quest.

But then…

The very first obstacle faces them. It might not be all that terrible of a situation, but it puts just enough of a damper on the travels to make the hero question why they started the whole adventure to begin with. And then they usually start complaining.

If the storyteller juxtaposes those feelings of the hero—excitement followed by miserable complaint—with little space between them, it tends to create a humorous scene. Well, for those watching it’s humorous. For the hero, it’s still misery.

For instance, my first thought when it comes to this type of juxtaposition is Bilbo from the first movie in The Hobbit trilogy. We see the titular hobbit running through the field—signed contract in hand—and yelling, “I’m going on an adventure.” And then one of the very next things we see is him in the rain. Drenched. Cold. And miserable.

It didn’t take long to go from “Yay, adventure,” to “I wanna go home. Now.”

We can also find a similar situation in the book of Exodus. Chapters 14 and 15 to be precise. The descendants of Israel had been in Egypt for over 400 years. And things had been difficult for them in many ways. And the plagues that God sent against Egypt had just occurred.

Finally, Pharaoh allowed the Israelites to leave the city and worship their God. Things seemed to be looking upward for them. But as they neared the boundary of the Red Sea, Pharaoh’s army rose behind them. Ready to obliterate the burgeoning nation.

You’d think that this would be the place for the people of Israel to begin complaining. But there wasn’t time for it before Moses stepped up and spoke as God commanded him. Staff raised high, Moses called upon God’s power. And a wind rose that split the waters.

The millions of Israelites hurtled through the opening. On ground so dry that it was as if it had been that way for years. The people make it across and Moses calls for the waters to return. Pharaoh’s army had tried to follow, but the waters drowned the entire fighting force.

Exodus 15 then shows the people’s excitement. Almost two thirds of the chapter is devoted to their song. They’re literally singing the praises of God as a newly free people. There’s a grand adventure ahead of them that will bring them back to the land promised to their ancestors so long ago.

And verses 20-21 show Moses’ sister take up a tambourine and sing a short chorus. These guys are so pumped that they don’t just act like they’re in a staged musical, they also break into a second song because the first couldn’t contain their feelings.

But then…

Verses 22-27 happen. The very next words after their double song of praise show them miserable. Their wonder at adventure forgotten.

Three days after the miraculous salvation, the people are tired of sand and dirt. They’re thirsty and the only water around is this bitter liquid that’s unsafe for human consumption. Misery turns to complaint. And they forget the power of the God who saved them.

I mean, think about it. God had turned a vast sea into dry ground for them. But now that they’re traversing the arid land, they forget that their God can provide for them. It’s as if they think that God only works the one direction. If he can make the water into a desert, what makes them question his ability to make the desert filled with water?

It’s kinda funny, standing on the audience side of the story. This juxtaposition of excitement and praise turning to miserable complaint. All because they forgot the truth about God and his power. (And even still, he does provide water for them.)

When we think about this type of situation in our own lives, though, it seems less funny. Yet the power of God is no less true between their story and our stories. The God who saved us and sent us off on this adventure of a life lived for him is capable of many great things. He didn’t bring us through a miraculous salvation only to forget us out in the desert to fend for ourselves.

This isn’t the promise of a miracle in every situation, but it is the promise of a God who cares for us. He proved his desire of a relationship with us when he offered salvation to us on the cross. This momentary difficulty won’t change the adventure he offers. It’s part of the adventure. Part of building the relationship in faith with him.

And when the difficulty is over, and we look back on the path that led us, we’ll get to laugh along with the humor of it all.