Have you ever read the book of Numbers? If you have, you may have noticed the way the people of Israel seem utterly ungrateful and outrageously fickle, whining and complaining at the first sign of trouble. In Numbers 11, after the Lord had rescued them out of Egypt, the people of Israel complained about their trials…and then complained again because they had no meat. (No, they just had manna, the bread from heaven God miraculously provided for them.)
Then in chapter 14, they wept and grumbled because they feared the people of Canaan. As punishment, the Lord told them that none of them of 20 years and older would come into the land. The people of Israel were mournful and then decided that they would go into the land in direct disregard of God’s word. As a result, the Israelites were defeated and run off by the Canaanites and Amalekites because of their own foolishness and rebellion. In chapter 16 Korah and some other men rose up against Moses because they felt he was lifting himself up above the people. In chapter 20 the people grumbled because of the infertility of the land and the lack of water. Through the power of God, Moses brought water out of a rock for them. In chapter 21 the people grew impatient and discouraged and complained again.
You’d think the presence of the Lord, freedom, bread from heaven, and water from a rock would be enough for them, wouldn’t you?
We Are Israel
Maybe you’re thinking, “Really, Israel, come on; what else do you need? Hasn’t God proven Himself to you guys enough? Haven’t you learned yet to be grateful for all of the incredible things the Lord has done for you? I never would have acted that way, if I were you.”
But I’ve got news for you…you are. Somehow we human beings tend to be hotwired to the moment of right here and right now. When trouble comes knocking, we tend to lose sight of what the Lord has already done for us, everything else goes out the window, and what do we do but start complaining and asking God to bring water out of the rock for us.
Maybe God brought in the scholarship, got you the job, dropped a dream in your lap and you were perfectly content to follow Him through any desert He decided to lead you through. Then the money dried up or the job fell through or the dream sputtered to stop on the side of the road. Then we turned to God and said, “Why did you do this to me? Fix it; show me You’re really there.” Remind you of anyone? Yeah, like it or not, oftentimes we’re just like the people of Israel in the book of Numbers.
But what if we made an effort to change this? What if we focused on all of the blessings the Lord has given us? What if we lived thankfully?
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Sometimes thankfulness can be hard to come by, but there’s a benefit to it. When we focus on the good things rather than the bad, it can give us an entire new outlook on life, it can give us joy, a positive perspective, it can make us stronger in the face of adversity and make our problems seem less serious.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many of us become more prone to look at our blessings and be thankful. But the week after Thanksgiving many go right back to the way they were before, looking for the bad things and complaining. So I challenge you to try an experiment. After Thanksgiving is over and the leftovers are all eaten, keep the spirit of Thanksgiving in your heart, look for your blessings and thank the Lord for them, see for yourself how it can transform your life.
Dear Lord, when we look at all the bad things,
Help us see the good and thank you for our blessings,
Help us not only talk the talk, but walk the walk
And realize how we’re blessed with Water from the Rock.
A Psalm of thanksgiving.
Shout for joy to Yahweh, all you lands!
Serve Yahweh with gladness.
Come before his presence with singing.
Know that Yahweh, he is God.
It is he who has made us, and we are his.
We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,
into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, and bless his name.
For Yahweh is good.
His loving kindness endures forever,
his faithfulness to all generations.