Numbers 11: 20 “because you have rejected the Lord, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?'”
They complained about their enemies. They complained about their lack of water. They complained about their food. The nation of Israel could be characterized as one big complaining machine. All the good they had experienced-including more than a few mighty miracles-was overshadowed by clouds of grumbling and ungratefulness.
Their complaining expressed dissatisfaction with God’s provision and reinforced the idea he wasn’t looking out for them. In the midst of their moaning, they chucked his sovereignty and allowed their perceptions to become distorted. To think they “wailed” to go back to the slave-pits of Egypt! Their vision of the past took on a false luster of contentment that simply never was.Complaining tends to do that.
Israel’s grumbling was so pervasive even Moses said he would rather die than continue to listen to them! (Numbers 11:11-15). No wonder their complaints aroused God’s anger. Their rejection of him was like a slap in the face-the ultimate mark of disloyalty.
In my book, Virgin Snow, I describe fourteen “marks” that reflect the character of God, attributes he wants to engrave in our nature. Just as significantly, we can develop patterns of behavior that mar rather than mark God’s likeness in our lives. Patterns like complaining…
I can’t help but think that if complaining arouses God’s anger, our gratitude must be pleasing to him. Those times of frustration when we don’t get what we want but continue to press on, serving him in faithfulness, nourish both our love and loyalty. It must especially delight him when we declare our devotion in those dark times when our manna has grown stale and the things we thirst for lie hidden in the desert of his higher purposes. “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).
There will always be situations to complain about. But as the lyricist reminds us, there are “ten thousand reasons” we can find to praise him. It’s up to us as to what fills our souls….as to whether we will be true to his likeness or bear the mark of disloyalty….