Do everything without grumbling or arguing. Phil. 2:14Our pastor has been preaching on the book of Numbers the past several weeks. When he started this series after Christmas, I was a little curious as to what he could possibly preach about, since many of the chapters are just census information. However, Numbers is a rich book about the Lord and His people in the wilderness, and our pastor has given his congregation much to ponder over. I've been meaning to write about one sermon he gave towards the beginning of the series, which was on Numbers 11. This sermon really convicted me about my own life. Here is the passage from which he spoke:
Numbers 11:4-15, 31-34
4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!"
7 The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. 8 The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a handmill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into cakes. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. 9 When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.
10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the LORD, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, 'Give us meat to eat!' 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin."
31 Now a wind went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day's walk in any direction. 32 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. 33 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. 34 Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food.In this passage, the Israelites are complaining about their circumstances. Life had seemed so much better before they were left to wander in the wilderness. They were probably hot, tired, and hungry. Tired of eating manna. They just wanted a simple request--meat. God could easily provide that, even in the midst of the desert. So they started to complain. I can imagine them before Moses, thinking that just a taste of meat would be a simple request. The thought must have eventually consumed them.
Usually, this is how I see complaining in my own life. Things are not quite up to my expectations, so I pick and prod to get things done. It's just a simple thing I need, I tell myself. It doesn't even really matter. I must admit that my husband tends to get most of my complaining. After all, if I don't complain, things may not be done quite right. Eventually, the thoughts tend to well up inside, and I dwell on them far too long. However, I still tend to push it aside and think that it really isn't that big of a deal.
But after hearing our pastor's sermon, it struck me that complaining really is significant. When my expectations are not met, I linger on that fact and think, poor little me. I complain in order to weasel my way into having my expectations met. At this point, I'm not only being selfish and petty, but more importantly, I am becoming my own god. I'm essentially saying that I know how to do things better than God concerning the things in my life, and I want control. I want what's best for me.
I found it striking about the name Kibroth-hattaavah. It literally translates into graves of craving. What a vivid image! The devastation caused by their disobedience left many dead. I can almost picture the graves of those who rallied against God's wisdom for their lives in the wilderness, and dying after receiving what they thought was best. And to think, I'm so much like them!
It's astoundingly comforting to know that our Lord knows what's best for our lives. I know that I cannot understand His ways many times, and complaining seems like the easiest route to try to gain control. But I know that I shouldn't complain--it is sin. God is orchestrating every detail of my life, and I need to rest in that fact. Complaining certainly will not get me anywhere, so I must be content and trust in the Lord