And [when] the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard [it]; and his anger was kindled… Numbers 11:1
Casey and his wife have a large glass container in which they put stones representing blessings. Each time God does something, they add a stone of remembrance. Casey says he can’t remember what each stone represents, but those stones are reminders of God’s provisions.
This morning Casey talked about the Children of Israel and their experience with the snakes (Numbers 21). Since there weren’t any markets in the desert and the food had long since run out, God provided manna – after the Israelites began complaining. And then they wanted meat, so God provided quail – after the Israelites complained. But God’s blessings were never enough.
Apparently, the Israelites had a bad case of “poormease,” and finally, God got really tired of their endless ingratitude. They’d been delivered from an abusive Pharaoh; rescued from the Egyptian army; given food, meat, water, and clothes that didn’t wear out; and yet it was never enough. So God got their attention.
Venomous snakes invaded the camp and bit the people. No one had to point out the fault of the Israelites. Immediately, they rushed to Moses saying they had sinned. They were well aware of their ingratitude and complaining not only against Moses but also against God who had provided everything they needed.
God’s remedy: Put a replica of those nasty snakes on a pole to remind the Israelites of what life would be like without God’s gracious provisions. Just one look cured them. We may not like the same-ness of the manna, but it nourishes us. We may get tired of quail, but it is an unexpected gift of love. We may be annoyed that the water comes from the rock rather than a pristine spring, but it quenches our thirst. Gripe, gripe, gripe.
I like Casey’s idea of the stone reminders. Lent is a good time to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Yes, I like that a lot better than venomous snakes.
Father, I have a choice between gratitude and griping. Help me always to remember that your blessings far exceed any trials that will ever come my way. In Jesus our Lord. AMEN.