Numbers 11:5-6 (ESV) -- We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.
Have you ever witnessed someone be ungrateful for something done for them? I think about times I’ve watched children open birthday or Christmas gifts and be disappointed or mad they didn’t get something different. But kids are immature, and we expect holes in their character for things like this. I’ve also watched ingratitude from adults. There have been many occasions when I’ve seen people go out of their way to help someone and that person later talks about how nobody was there for them in their time of trial. I just shake my head when I see these things because ingratitude is an ugly character trait.
But before I get too self-righteous, I’m often reminded of how my own ingratitude is displayed every day. I don’t live as thankful to God as I should for His mercies, provisions, and salvation given to me. I presume upon His kindness and often live with a “what have you done for me lately” posture. God, have mercy.
Our passage today shows how easy it is for all of us to do this. We read of the children of Israel wandering in the desert after their rescue from Egypt. They were slaves. You would think their new freedom would make them the most grateful people in the world. Yet they grumbled. They looked back at their time in slavery with a longing for the foods they ate as captives. It is bizarre for us to think about. God was providing for them a special bread from Heaven that nobody on earth had ever eaten before. More importantly, He gave them freedom. He rescued them. Yet they were comfortable enough in their bondage that, now being free, they took time to envy the food they had then compared to the food and freedom they had in the present.
Before we shake our heads in disbelief, we are no different. We would have been among the grumblers too had we been present. Why? Because it is in our nature to take blessings for granted. We are not naturally grateful. We must cultivate a grateful heart by constantly reflecting on the goodness and grace of God to us. None of it is deserved. The more we meditate on those realities, the more gratitude will mark our lives. And if we are in Christ, we have been rescued from slavery to sin and have the most cause for gratitude than anyone in the world.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why do you think we are naturally ungrateful people?
- What was the root cause underneath the Israelites grumbling about food?
- How do we sometimes fall into this trap in our own lives?
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