Who wants to be around a complainer? Do you know people who just seem to complain about everything, even when you can see so many blessings in their lives? Their reality is warped with negativity as covetousness clouds their minds. They can only see what they don’t have. Maybe you’ve been stuck in this trap as well, but, by God’s grace, your eyes have been opened. Let’s take a journey of complaining voices through the lives of the Israelites in the book of Numbers…
- “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp [with fire].” Numbers 11:1
There are just those days when everything, even the little things, just seems to be going wrong. You don’t have enough of this or enough of that, or you have too much of this or too much of that. Everything is just frustrating and you find yourself in a slump focused on the negative and not focused on God’s goodness and all that He has done. This, unfortunately, tends to be the human nature of sin, and is the story of the Israelites as well…
- “The rabble with them [those who were not native Israelites, followers of the Lord] began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat. We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6
When the Israelites were in Egypt, they were slaves, and not just any slaves. They were the worst of all slaves, with exceedingly hard work loads that maimed and killed. Their complaining, covetness and rebellious spirit swayed their sense of reality. They had forgotten the reality of how they really were… in bondage as slaves. Instead, they blindly saw their slavery as freedom.
If we have the wrong focus, our entire reality is wrongly focused.
- “Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled… “Tell the people: ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The Lord heard you when you wailed, “If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’” Numbers 11:10, 18-20
The Lord is good and kind, caring for those that are His. When we forget His provisions and focus on the things that seem to be wrong, like the Israelites, we kindle the Lord’s anger. He feels rejected and unappreciated, like we all would in the same situation. He gets frustrated at our lack of understanding and lack of thankfulness. Likewise, if we got up early to fix our children breakfast every morning before school, packed them a lunch, and finished off their day with a scrumptious dinner including a fresh baked dessert, and yet heard them loudly complain about how they didn’t get potato chips when they got off the bus, would your anger start to build against them? What about if they complained every day for a year about their lack of chips? At some point, you would consider having a semi-truck dump a lifetime’s worth of potato chips into their very rooms, filling it to overflowing so that they could no longer navigate to their bed. That is how God feels when we don’t appreciate His generous gifts. He is hurt, frustrated, and also angry.
- “Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It scattered them up to two cubits deep all around the camp, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp. But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food.” Numbers 11:31-34
Be thankful in all circumstances and in all situations. Do not temp the Lord’s patience, but instead fill His house with praise for what He has so graciously provided…. which, most importantly, is His Son, Jesus Christ, who provides for us a way to everlasting, glorious life.
- “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,” Hebrews 12:28
Fortunately, the Lord is slow to anger and is filled with compassion and love for you. You only need to ask for forgiveness for complaining and the Lord is quick to forgive.
- “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing…” Joel 2:12-14
Father God, Thank you for your generous provisions. Please forgive us for the times when we focus on the things that we don’t have and then complain about them. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness and your complete willingness to restore us to yourself. We love you! In Jesus Name. Amen.