When Cravings Lead to Complaining

Leah DiPascal

Day: 11 | Plan: Numbers

Today's Reading: Numbers 11

Numbers 11:23 (NIV) “The LORD answered Moses, ‘Is the LORD's arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.’”

It had been only three days since the Israelites set out from Mount Sinai. As they made their way to Kadesh Barnea, an oasis on the southern border of Canaan, the people started to complain about their circumstances.

This was not an inward grumbling or under-the-breath murmuring. This combo-sized serving of complaints was palpable evidence that the Israelites failed to appreciate what God had done for them.

God responded and His anger kindled as fire burned within and around the camp. The people cried out to Moses so he graciously prayed and God answered, causing the fire to dwindle.

But no sooner had the wrath of God diminished than a group of non-Israelites began complaining. Scripture refers to them as “ the rabble”—a mixed multitude of people who left Egypt with the Israelites during the Exodus. This time their complaints were birthed out of cravings for the foods of Egypt. They reminisced about meat and protested the manna that God was generously providing. (Numbers 11:4-6)

This craving turned into a communal cry fest as each Israelite family stood outside their tents wailing. (Numbers 11:10) The wave of discouragement quickly caught hold of Moses and he began to ask the Lord questions, which were filled with doubt and frustration. (Numbers 11:11-15)

Here we see the unfolding of a triple protest: the Israelites, the rabble and Moses—all complaining to God. Many lost sight of His promises while insatiably craving things from their past. Focusing only on their fleshly desires and what would make them temporarily happy.

Instead of counting their blessings, they allowed doubts to consume them. Even Moses asked, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?” (Numbers 11:11).

God gave the Israelites the meat they craved, but it would come at a cost in the form of a plague. (Numbers 11:18-20, 33) Instead of receiving things with a positive perspective, their grumbling resulted in negative consequences.

Today’s text really challenges me. As I think about all the complaining the Israelites did, I’m faced with the fact that I can do my fair share of complaining too. Regardless of whether it’s quiet murmuring or occasional criticizing, God hears it all.

Presenting our requests and concerns before God should always be preceded with a pure heart of gratitude. And whenever we raise our voices to Him, our words should be filled with worship and thanksgiving.

Prayer : Heavenly Father, I have so much to be thankful for. Teach me how to have a thankful perspective no matter what circumstances I’m facing. Change any negative attitudes into genuine gratitude for all You’ve done for me. Help me to be quick to say “thank You” and slow to complain. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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