Numbers 11:1-15 (Part 1) – Ah, Man, The Internet Is Down! What Am I Going to Do? – First World Problems!

Posted: August 23, 2016 in Book of Numbers
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Numbers 11:1-15 (Part 1)

The People Complain to Moses

Have you ever found yourself complaining about what you don’t have? We have all done it and may be in the midst of it right now. We, Americans, complain about things that really don’t matter at times. We live in a society that has abundance of all things in the highest order. Even the poorest among us in our country have a standard of living that is a cut above the rest of the world. We complain about the internet being down for 30 minutes as if it is the end of the world (when 15 short years most of us did not even have the internet). We complain about having nothing to eat when the cupboards of our homes have food in them. We wish for new cars and other new toys when the cars and toys we have now are more than adequate. We complain about first world problems all the time. We complain about not having what the Joneses have next door. We complain about our weight and our obesity wishing that we weighed less. We complain about our house not being big enough. We complain about being too busy to go to fit small group into our schedule. We complain about the day of the week on which our small group meets. We complain about that it’s too cold at church because they have the air conditioning cranked up too much on Sunday morning. We complain about our inability to give to the church but yet we have brand new cars that we complain about, extremely costly vacations that we take, and toys that we consider necessities. We complain that our jobs don’t pay us enough but yet we spend every penny when we get a raise. We complain about transgender rights while some people on earth are starving. Homosexuals complain that their rights are unfulfilled while people are being killed for just being Christians in other parts of the world. Heterosexuals complain about their wives or husbands not looking as young as they used to and spend money on boob jobs and tummy tucks when in other parts of the world, you might be lucky to live to age 55. We burn our cities down when cops enforce the laws when in other parts of the world disappear and are never heard from again because they speak out against the communist regime under which they live. We complain about things like a child with a closet full of toys but says he has nothing to play with. Just think about the things that we CAN complain about but that much of the rest of the world cannot. Have you ever thought how grateful we should be as an American people? We were born into this land of abundance by the sheer grace of God and for no other reason. We could have easily been born elsewhere.

 

There are things that are shown to us that put our lives into perspective. If you have ever been to a third world country where the standard of living is so far beneath ours that we would be like fish out of water. When you visit a place like Haiti and see the desperate poverty, but yet you see the joy in which many of them live their lives, it puts our complaints into perspective. It rocked my world when I visited Haiti twice during 2012-2013. It changed my whole perspective. Much of my international travel to that point had been to developed nations or to the tourist districts of developing nations. I really had not seen how people in many parts of the world lived. It was astonishing to me. It made me realize how extremely blessed I am to have happened to have been born in the United States. It is purely by the grace of God. It borne a new heart of generosity in my soul. It changed my perspective about “things” and about what is important. Sitting in a worship service at Restoration Church in Jacmel was the most amazing thing about giving God glory regardless of our station in life was awe-inspiring. To be in a prayer service, with the cacophony of voices in French Creole giving praise to the Lord all praying their own prayers out loud where you could taste the Holy Spirit in the air and you could sense their joy in loving the Lord changed me. We can have joy in the midst of anything if we just love the Lord with the same abandon that these folks who are the poorest folks in the western hemisphere did. Changes your perspective on first world complaints.

 

Another thing that can put our first world complaints into perspective is to think of my dear friend, Janet Kennedy. She lost her husband to cancer, her only daughter to cancer, and she is in the midst of battling cancer herself. When I think of drifting on the canoe of complaints about my first world problems, Janet Kennedy comes into my mind. The loss that this woman has suffered and is in the midst of herself at this very moment in life but yet she has this innate joy for living that exudes from her. She has her good days and bad days with cancer but she will be the first to give glory to the Lord for each new day that He gives her. I constantly tell her that she is my shining star of hope. She battles much. She is in pain as we speak but yet she has a joyful heart that just makes me smile when I think of her. It puts my first world problems of the internet being down or the power being out or the lack of adequate choices for president into perspective. The thing about Janet is that she knows that each day given by the Lord means that she has another chance to tell people about Jesus and that she still has something to give. She knows that the Lord will call her home when He is ready and she is OK with that. What she battles daily is mighty and what I complain about daily is just an inconvenience compared to Janet’s world. She inspires me to shake off the first world, spoiled rotten mindset that seeps into my life at times and see that every moment that God gives us on this side of eternity is not to complain but to give Him glory so that others are drawn to Him. Giving glory to God in the midst of cancer is hard to do but Janet has made it her ministry to show others that each day is a gift from God and that we can give Him glory no matter the situation.

 

Our first world complaints were what I thought about when reading through today’s passage, Numbers 11:1-15, for the first time.

 

 

11 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 2 When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. 3 So that place was called Taberah,[a] because fire from the Lord had burned among them.

Quail From the Lord

 

4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

 

7 The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. 8 The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. 9 When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.

 

10 Moses heard the people of every family wailing at the entrance to their tents. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. 11 He asked the Lord, “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? 12 Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? 13 Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. 15 If this is how you are going to treat me, please go ahead and kill me—if I have found favor in your eyes—and do not let me face my own ruin.”

 

The dissatisfaction with our life comes when our attention shifts from what we have to what we do not have. The people of Israel did not seem to notice the provision that God was giving them in the midst of the desert wilderness. They had forgotten that in Egypt that they were slaves and worked brutally. God had set them free from bondage, was making them into a nation of people, and was going to deliver them into a new land. No, they got wrapped up in what God was not doing for them. Even though they were in the wilderness but were miraculously and daily being given the provision of food, all they could think about was the food that grew on the banks of the Nile in Egypt. Somehow, they forgot the price of their food – brutal slavery. Before we judge the Israelites harshly and it is hard not to do so when reading the Old Testament accounts of their continued ungratefulness and God’s continued miraculous provisions for them, it is helpful to think about what occupies our attention. Are we grateful for what God has given each of us or do we focus on what he is not providing or has not provided yet that we desire?

 

We should not let our unfulfilled desires and wants to cloud the view of what God has already given us at this moment – life, shelter, food, health, work and friends. Even if we are not in good health, we are still alive for a purpose. God has something for us to do. We have only a fleeting moment on this earth. Are we going to be known for giving God glory no matter the circumstance or are we going to be known for what we complain about? When we can have joy in the Lord through the tough times. When we can have joy in the Lord in the wilderness. We draw others unto Him. And is that not what we are here for! To give God glory for each day that He gives us so that people will be drawn unto Him.

 

Amen and Amen.

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