I’ve been reading in Numbers this week and remembering how much the children of Israel complained and whined after leaving Egypt. In just 4 chapters, (11-14) these ungrateful grumblers complained about what God gave them to eat, Moses’ authority, the giants in the Promised Land, and their consequence that would not allow them to enter the new land. I want to learn from these chapters. I don’t want to grumble and whine about the circumstances that come my way. I want to remember God’s faithfulness and provision and keep trusting Him, because He has certainly proven Himself trustworthy.
When Jesus came and died for us, He took God’s wrath upon Himself. We don’t have to look at our circumstances as punishment and fear that God will open up the ground and swallow us. We don’t have to eat quail until it comes out our nostrils; we don’t get leprosy for a week, and our children don’t have to wander in the wilderness for forty years. We are free.
But all too often we can find ourselves grumbling and whining instead of trusting our Father who loves us so much. Does the death and life of Jesus make no difference? Is there a way to lessen our complaining? If so, what helps? As I pondered how easy it is to judge the whining Israelites and then turn around and act just like them, these questions came to my mind. I had a few thoughts that might help.
First it occurred to me that the better we know God, the easier it is to trust Him. Seeking intimacy with Him when circumstances are going well helps me to remember Him when things are hard or sad. Knowing who He is and what is like Him is easily found in the Scriptures. Talking to and listening to Him in prayer encourage intimacy. The God of the Israelites dwelt in a tent; today He lives in us. We are never alone, never forsaken. The more we focus on God and how much He loves us, the easier it will be to remember to turn to Him when we feel like grumbling. We may act like the Israelites, but we don’t have to.
I had another thought about why it’s so easy to complain instead of remembering all He has done. We can’t remember in our own strength and self-effort. It’s helpful to ask Him to prompt us and remind us to turn to Him. We then have a choice. If what’s going on is very painful, we might need to ask for human help and let someone lend their support. That’s OK, too. The more we practice turning to Him, the easier it will be to remember His love and provision instead of grumbling.
As we read about the whining Israelites, we notice a difference in their actions and those of Moses. Moses turned to the LORD most every time. The people complained, sometimes immediately after God had just done a miracle. Moses knew Him better and had had lots of practice depending on God and finding Him faithful. Moses interacted with God—the people had mediators. We have it better than Moses did—we have Jesus living in us and we can interact with Him anytime, anywhere.
In summary, I want to encourage us to practice turning to Jesus about everything. If we want to know Him, we will. When we remember to look at His loving provision, His kindness, all He has done for us, complaining and whining will fade away.
“Therefore I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.” 2Peter 1:12