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)
The Israelites were in the wilderness. Their journey was long and I imagine hard. One thing they didn't have to worry about was food. God was providing manna. The description in the Bible of manna says it looked like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. The Israelites ate it for 40 years while they wandered around which means that it had to be nutritional as well. It sustained them for a long time.
Interestingly, after eating it for a bit, the Israelites began to complain. They wanted meat. The thing that makes you wonder here is that as they complained, they started comparing their life in freedom to their life in Egypt. In Egypt they were slaves. That little thought seems to have escaped them as they wished for fish, cucumbers, melons and other foods. They said in verse 5 that they used to eat fish for free in Egypt. It wasn't free. They paid for it with the sweat of their brow and the lives of their families. But they still reminisced thinking back on slavery as the good 'ol life.
If I were being honest, I can't judge them. How often do I do this? How often am I staring at ablessing while wishing for something else? How often do I thank God for something and then turn around and complain about another aspect of my life? What are we saying about God and his gifts when we are not thankful?
One day I was complaining to a friend of mine about my life. After I was done, she looked at me and said "Your life doesn't sound that bad to me. I think you are complaining about "first-world problems." She was right. My life it not that bad. It's actually really amazing. There are folks who would sacrifice much to have what I complain about.
How did God respond to the Israelites complaining about his provision in their life? He said, “And say to the people, ‘Purify yourselves, for tomorrow you will have meat to eat. You were whining, and the Lord heard you when you cried, “Oh, for some meat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. And it won’t be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. 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?”’” (vs 18-20)
God saw their complaining as a rejection of his gifts. He saw it as a rejection of himself. Maybe that's why in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 he says "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." Maybe he knows that when we complain there is something broken deep down in our hearts. We think we know what is best for us and what we should have when really, we don't have a clue. We forget that God has our best interest at heart and that he knows what we need. We forget that he is always working to bring us into a better place with him.
What is broken deep down in our hearts? It is in how we see and trust God. Do I look at my circumstances and trust God knowing that he is doing what I need? Can I count all that is happening in my life as blessings, no matter what? Am I staring at manna and wishing for meat?
All I can do is praise him because in spite of my complaints, it doesn’t stop him from his work. It doesn’t stop him from loving me. Be thankful in all circumstances. Because the One who knows the end from the beginning is in charge of your life.