Life is hard.
Over 30 years ago when I was going through a divorce and becoming a single parent to two small boys, I received a card from a co-worker that I still keep. It is a reminder of a difficult time and a friend’s desire to comfort me.
The front said, “Life is hard,” and had a picture of a large disheveled woman slouching in a chair. The inside said, “It’s just breathe, breathe, breathe all the time.” I am confident I laughed then, even as I do when I run across it now.
Life IS hard. No doubt. But have you ever thought that it becomes harder when we are unwilling to keep our eyes focused on the Lord’s provision?
Let’s go back and look at the people that “fell to grumbling about their hard life” and see what we can learn from them.
In the chapters leading up to Numbers 11, the Lord had provided abundantly for the Israelites. Let’s list just a few:
- Favor among the Egyptians that provided much of the wealth they took with them
- Delivery from the slavery of Egypt
- The cloud and the pillar of fire to guide them
- Daily food – exactly as much as they needed (Manna)
- Provision for dealing with their sin
- His presence in the tabernacle
- A humble, patient leader in Moses
But it wasn’t enough for them. And the Lord was rightly offended and sent a fire to destroy the outskirts of the camp. Wow! That’s kind of harsh.
“Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”” Numbers 11:4-6 NLT
And a few verses later, the Lord told them he would give them some meat. But he also exposes the ultimate problem. And it is our problem as well.
“You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’”” Numbers 11:20 NLT emphasis added
Complaining starts with failing to be grateful. They forgot. They forgot where they had been. Their description of its benefits was likely overstated, but even if not, definitely missed the perspective of the brutal slavery that went with the good food.
They forgot what kind of food would have been available if God had left them to fend for themselves.
They forgot what a patient leader Moses was. I mean, he had his moments when he got fed up with their grumbling, but overall…A+ as a leader!
They forgot that the Lord himself would come and dwell in the tabernacle. And that He was guiding them in their journey.
They needed a verse or two of “Count Your Many Blessings”!
Counting your blessings isn’t just for November and Thanksgiving Day. Praising the Lord for His provision is needed daily to help us keep our perspective. Maybe that’s why Paul told us to give thanks in all things.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT
Also note that in this chapter Moses also complained. But the Lord responded to him quite differently. The Life Application Study Bible Notes point out that there is a difference between the Israelites complaining and Moses’. Moses complained TO God while the Israelites complained ABOUT God.
You’ll find many Psalms where the writer is complaining to God about his situation (Psalms 42 and 43, for example). And in almost every one, he ends up praising the Lord for who He is. He is getting his perspective back.
Paul admonished us to do everything without complaining or arguing – Philippians 2:14.
So what is the solution for complaining? Get grateful. How do you get grateful? Get perspective. How do you get perspective? Intentionally be grateful.
Gratefulness journals abound. Would that help you to make a daily habit of praising the Lord for His provision? It doesn’t have to be fancy. Technically, it doesn’t have to even be written. But that helps me.
So whether you just voice your thankfulness to God daily in your verbal or mental prayers, or whether you find a place to write them with a pen, or in an app. Be grateful. Be grateful for:
- Who God is
- What He has provided for you
I have a section of my prayer journal that I keep in OneNote that is just for Praises and Answered Prayer. I try to add items every day. I have years’ worth of these praises that I can look back on and this can be very encouraging during a down-time as well.
How do you stay grateful or how are you going to start?