Have you ever been in a place of want in your life? We are amazingly spoiled here in the United States because most of us truly don’t know what it’s like to go without. Most of us have a warm place to stay, food for our stomachs and clothing to wear even if it is hand-me-downs. Yet, instead of being grateful and thanking God each day for what we do have we grumble about what we don’t have. We’re tired of eating hamburger when we really want a thick, juicy prime rib.
I love the story in Numbers 11 which is a demonstration of not only people complaining about what they don’t have but God’s sense of humor (even in his anger) when dealing with an ungrateful crowd. It is also a picture of how greedy people can be even when God provides.
God had provided the people of Israel with a special food called Manna which fell each day for them. Morning by morning they would gather just enough Manna to feed their families and fill their bellies. Well, a time came when the Manna just wasn’t good enough anymore. They started whining amongst themselves and to Moses, “We want meat!” Instead of being grateful for their provision and maybe asking God for a little variety, they chose to complain and grumble. They cried about how much better off they were in Egypt because, while they were slaves, at least they had free fish. Moses was worn down by the constant demanding by the people and started complaining to God himself. “I can’t deal with these people,” he said.
God, who has eternal patience, was weary of their griping as well. He told Moses he would provide meat for the people. Oh yes, lots and lots of meat and not just for one or two days. God said in Numbers 11:19-20, “You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you.” I laughed so hard and thought of the adage, “Be careful what you wish for.” God was going to answer their ungrateful whining with meat until they wished they hadn’t asked for it.
God sends a wind forth and it drove quail from the sea to the Israelite camp. They fell around the camp 3 feet deep! The people went crazy. They didn’t just gather enough for their families for one day but in their greed hoarded the birds. It says in Numbers 11:32 the person who gathered the least had over 27 pounds of quail. Do you think they paused to thank God for his provision? Not at all. “While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people and the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague.”
God loves to provide for his people and when we have needs he wants us to ask him. Yet, we need to learn to be satisfied where we are at and when the provision comes thank God with a humble, grateful heart. We don’t have to whine and complain. God has promised to meet our needs (Phil 4:19) and in an abundant way. All he expects is our appreciation!