Death to Complainers | Numbers 11

Welcome to Real Life. Life is far from perfect. There’s always much to complain about. But, who wants to hang around a complainer?
Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complainand most fools do.” Dale Carnegie (1888-1955)
God’s nation of Israel is trapped in slavery to Egypt. His people cry out to him for deliverance. He answers. He sends Moses to Pharaoh with a directive, “Let my people go!” But, Pharaoh refuses. Why give up his free labor? God gives him ten reasons. After the plagues devastate Egypt, Pharaoh lets God’s people go free.

Though free, Israel must cross a desert wilderness to reach their homeland—the land God promised to Abraham’s descendants. The journey is long and hard. Food is scarce. God supernaturally provides manna (a type of grain to make bread). Before long, the people tire of manna. They crave the flavors of Egypt. “Oh, for a nice fish filet. We’re sick to death of manna. Remember the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic we enjoyed in Egypt? We were better off there.” The complaints escalate.

Moses fears a riot. He runs to the Lord with his own complaint, “I didn't give birth to these people. Why have you laid this heavy burden on me, Lord? Where can I find meat in the desert to feed thousands?

God delivers meat. For a month, he sends such an abundance of quail that it comes out of their nostrils. Then, with the meat still between their teeth, he strikes them with a plague. The most raucous complainers die.

Death seems like harsh punishment for complaining. That is, until I consider the logistics of transporting hundreds of thousands of people safely through a desert wilderness. It took military-like discipline. They were traversing the territories of hostile nations. Without strict obedience to leadership, the nation would not survive the journey. Rabble rousers had to be dealt with
harshly. 

This gives me pause, because I complain. Though, I prefer to call it “venting.” Sometimes, life is just so aggravating that it feels good to complain. “It’s too hot (or cold, or rainy, or ...). These stupid gas prices keep going up. My computer is sooo slow. The laundry never ends. Can you believe she did that?” A little venting is harmless, right?

Well, it’s not exactly harmless. Complaining is ugly. It fuels discontent, disunity, and encourages others to join my pity party. The truth is: The buck stops with God. He is my ultimate provider. He assigns my portion and lot in life.[1] When I vent, I am ultimately complaining against God.

I noticed something. Moses complained. But, he took his grievance directly to God. Instead of complaining to people (who can’t help), I can talk to God (who can help). However, I must go to him willing to listen. Because as I tune in to his Spirit and his Word, he can give me a true perspective of my situation. And, God is all powerful. He can change both my situation and my ugly attitude. He can even turn my grumbling into praise.

Lord, Moses was completely honest with you. I want to be like that. I want to tell you whatever is on my heart—good and bad. And, then, allow you to turn my grumbling into praise.

Taking it further …

The Apostle Paul suggests this cure for complaining. Instead of focusing on all that is wrong:

"Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you" (Phil. 4:8-9 NLT).
Photo taken by my young world-traveling-friend, Megan McKinley, in the Sahara Desert.
[1] Psalm 16:5-6

Comments

  1. Hi,
    You concluded with one of my most favorite passages of scripture from the book of Philippians. When I think of what Paul went through and then to sit in prison and write such sentences as rejoice in the LORD alway and again I say rejoice, I am always humbled. There are many times that I have to learn to first go to God. He is my source and regardless of what it is that I may be dissatisfied about, because he wants me to bring it to him. Just like Moses and David, he wants us to turn to him, first. I find myself having to learn that over and over.

    What a merciful God we serve.

    I really got strength from this article today.

    Shalom,
    Patricia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Patricia!
      Your well-thought-out comments are a blessing and an encouragement!
      Thanks, friend, for stopping by. :)

      Delete

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