Numbers 11:1, 4-6, 10, 18-20
1 When the people complained, it displeased the Lord. When the Lord heard it, his anger burned, and so the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outer parts of the camp. 4 Now the mixed multitude who were among them craved more desirable foods, and so the Israelites wept again and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we used to eat freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. 6 But now we are dried up, and there is nothing at all before us except this manna!” 10 Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, everyone at the door of his tent; and when the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly, Moses was also displeased. 18 “And say to the people, ‘Sanctify yourselves for tomorrow, and you will eat meat, for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat, for life was good for us in Egypt?” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat. 19 You will eat, not just one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, 20 but a whole month, until it comes out your nostrils and makes you sick, because you have despised the Lord who is among you and have wept before him, saying, “Why did we ever come out of Egypt?”’”
As a mom and chief chef in our home, I feel the sting of this one. Slaving over the stove to provide tasty meals, sometimes the creativity runs low. But the attitude of gratitude is what the recipient should bear when provided with food. God provided the food for them – they merely had to gather it. But that was not good enough. Ouch. We can easily get spoiled when our needs are provided for. When things come easily to us, we contemplate the value and wonder if we could do better. Maintaining thankfulness takes effort. It takes humility to understand what we really deserve instead of thinking we deserve better.
Moses was very humble – more than any man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3). He was surrounded by complaining yet lodged none of his own, well, except for having to lead the complainers themselves. This is also something I have seen as a parent. Loving parents tend to want to make their children comfortable. But too much comfort leads to idolatry of that comfort and the flesh is not pleased when comfort is removed. How do we treat such whining? When tempted to complain we can always consider one less fortunate, but perhaps beyond consideration should be action. Serving someone who has less would help produce a humility and take the focus off of ourselves.
Another aspect of our humanity is comparing – thinking that the grass is greener on the other side. For the Israelites to say it was better to be enslaved than to follow God and be provided for by Him is a slap in the face of our LORD. But do we do the same thing? Somehow we think earth should be like Heaven and when hardship happens or someone else is blessed more than we are, discontentment can grow – if we let it. Back to the example in my own life. One of my sons was not fond of split pea soup when he was a toddler. So, much like the Israelites who consumed manna daily, he had split pea soup every day until it became his favorite. He learned thankfulness and to appreciate what was given to him.
The parent/child relationship serves as a great analogy in my life when trying to understand why God our father would be offended over our discontent. The hurt of sacrificing for another only to have it poorly received is painful. If I am willing to examine myself, I can see where seeds of dissatisfaction are sown in my life, too. A migraine kept me from blogging earlier today – crippled with pain, I first complained about headaches but then thanked God for medicine and a wonderful husband who made me soup. Medical or household bills can be a source of a disgruntled attitude on my part, too, until I thank God that we have physicians. As we are nearing the celebration of Thanksgiving, and in everyday life, may we turn the discontent in our hearts around into a praise instead.
Lord, forgive our discontent and lack of thankfulness. Help us to trust Your provision and to recognize the everyday graces you bless us with and to have an attitude of gratitude and humility all for Your glory!