Sunday, June 23, 2013

"The cure for complaining" Num 11-14

The beauty of life can be fogged by a complaining heart
11 Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lordheard everything they said. Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp.Then the people screamed to Moses for help, and when he prayed to the Lord, the fire stopped. After that, the area was known as Taberah (which means “the place of burning”), because fire from the Lord had burned among them there (Num 11:1-3)
According to to complain means,
  1. to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault
  2. to tell of one's ailments
  3. to make a formal accusation
Some synonyms to the word complain include terms like,
grumble, growl, whine which are all terms for expressing dissatisfaction or discomfort. To complain is to protest against or lament a wrong. To grumble is to utter ill-natured complaints, half to oneself: Growl may express more anger than grumble. To whine is to complain in a mean spirited way, using a nasal tone.

I will define complaining to be expressing dissatisfaction about a particular situation, mostly in a way that puts blame on another person. Most of the time when we complain we tend to distant ourselves from the problem and spend more time pointing fingers of accusation and not being a productive part of the solution. 
I think this is the kind of complaining we see in our text today in the book of Numbers.
The context of Numbers 11, comes in during the time the children of Israel  had been traveling in the  desert for a few weeks, on their way to the land of Canaan which the Lord had promised to give them as their inheritance. 

During their time in the desert, God had provided them food that literally came from the sky each morning, and on Fridays they got a double portion so that they would be able to Rest on Saturday. God had given them laws to follow to help them experience a life full of peace and joy, the kind of life they could not create for themselves. 

In the desert, God had shown His presence to them visibly by using the cloud to shade them during the day and the fire to warm them at night. The God of Israel who brought them out of Egypt with miracles beyond their imagination, did not leave His people without physical leadership, God blessed them with Moses, a man whom the bible called the most humble man that ever lived (Num 12:3). Then as if this was not enough, God made sure that non of Israel's enemies came to fight them, they were safe from all their enemies because the Lord protected them by day and by night.
So what was Israel complaining about? Why was Israel in a state of dissatisfaction with their current circumstance?...
  1. Discomfort-In Numbers 11 Israel complained about their hardship because they were uncomfortable, "Soon the people began to complain about their hardship". ...they were thirsty, hungry...afraid
  2. Impatience or Lack of understanding-Moses further down in this chapter complains to God wishing to die because the people's complaining and weeping was making him angry and he felt powerless to change the situation, moving him to get a bit impatient with God. He did not understand God's plan. Moses said to the Lord"14 I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If you will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.”(Numb 11:14-15). 
  3. Jealousy-Then much further in Numbers 12, Aaron and Miriam complain about Moses because he married a woman outside the tribe of IsraelThey used Moses decision to marry a Cushite woman as an opportunity to question his Godly leadership. All because they were jealous of how God used Moses and they wanted to be used in the same way. They said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?”.
  4. Fear-In Numbers 13, Ten of the twelve spies who were sent to scout the Land of Canaan, came back with a report masked with fear. This caused the whole congregation of Israel to complain about God's leadership. The 10 spies' report went something like this, " “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large....“We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” 32 So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out..." Then all of Israel, except Caleb and Joshua, responded to this report by complaining "...And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”...This outburst of ungratefulness caused this generation to wonder the desert for 40 years, many of them never entering the promised land of Canaan. 
  5. Lack of trust-In all these circumstance there was a lack of trust. Because of a lack of trust in God's power and His love towards Israel, they complained, pointing the blame finger at God, at Moses at their leadership. They failed to put their current hardship in the right perspective of God's love and His desire and ability to care for them.
Isaih 43:1-3, the Lord says

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

Before I jump in to judge Israel for being so slow to believe and trust in their God. I am forced to look in the mirror and see times when I have complained about big or small circumstances in my life which are not the way I would like. 

I complain about it being too hot, or too cold, things being too cheap or too expensive. We complain about being single or being married. Having children can be a cause to complain and not being able to have children causes us to complain as well. Being at home we complain and being far from home causes us to complain. Being in school causes us to complain and not having an education causes us to complain. Being rich we complain and being poor we complain as well.....the list can go on.

Our story today reminds us that complaining does not solve a situation it only makes it worst. Complaining only points fingers it does not provide solutions. Complaining promotes selfishness rather than finds ways to work as a team for the greater good. Complaining is destructive rather than creative. Looking at the ills of complaining which we all are guilty of, one time or another, what can we do to reduce our tendency to complain about life's circumstances good or bad, small or big. What can we do to transform our complaints to creative solutions or to asking the right questions?

Answer = Rejoice, Pray and Give Thanks (1 Thes 5:16-18)
Rejoice!!!!, take delight in life, training your mind, by the grace of God to see things more positively, the glass half full instead of half empty. Not complaining does not mean we are ignorant about what is happening, but it simply means we choose to see another side of the coin. Enjoy the company of positive thinking people, laugh often, and motive others to see the joys of life.

Pray about everything, big or small, because we are not in control of many things in life. The one who holds our universe in His hand isYahweh God and He is able and willing to give good things to those who ask Him (Matt 7:11). He has designed this world to work in partnership with Him through our prayers and our obedience. The Devine God and Humankind working together to achieve God's perfect will on earth is the invisible hand that brings blessing to our land and our lives.

A thankful heart is the medicine to the complaining disease. We cannot give thanks for the pain and discomfort we face in this life, but we can give thanks through it all. Thanksgiving is a muscle we train, by using it constantly. This muscle has the potential to see you through the mundane times or when the tough times come and to motivate others to do the same. So find opportunities to say and show the waiter...the maintenance guy...your boss...I dare you to try it.

Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing and in everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you...and His will is not burdensome but life this is true comfort for the soul. Until next time, which might be several weeks from now, may you continue to seek God's loving hand through His most precious word. 

Comfortnotes, Read, share and be comforted.

....I will be going to South Sudan for leadership training, please pray Col 1:9-11 over me and pray for all the people God will give me the privilege of meeting. As much as is possible, I will be blogging still on this site...just click the page Training in South Sudan for blog updates while on this trip. For this short break, I encourage you to keep reading your bible, walking in the love of our God and catch up on any of  the earlier posts on this site. Thank you for reading Comfortnotes and for your prayers.

Blessings and Love

My Testimony