Any failure will tell you success is nothing but luck. Children are born optimists, and the world slowly tries to educate them out of their “delusion.”
A life of complaining is the ultimate rut. The only difference between a rut and a grave is their measurements. Those who have nothing good to say are always stuck. “Little men with little minds and little imagination jog through life in little ruts, smugly resisting all changes that would jar their little worlds.” – Anonymous
Some of the most disappointed people in the world are those who get what is coming to them.
Small things always affect small minds. Some people are confident they could move mountains if only someone else would just clear the foothills out of the way.
Misery wants your company. Complainers attract other complainers while repelling positive people. When God gets ready to bless you, He doesn’t send complainers into your life. He sends those full of faith, power and love.
When you feel like complaining, bring God into the situation. You have to shut out His light to be in the darkness: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3). Is God your hope or your excuse? Don’t let heaven become only a complaint counter. “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been!” – John Greenleaf Whittier
Don’t complain. The wheel that squeaks the loudest often gets replaced. If you complain about other people, you have not time to love them. When you complain, you explain your pain for no gain.
Read Exodus 16
A month has passed between the time Israel departed from Egypt to the time the nation reached the Wilderness of Sin. Water had already been a problem (15:22-26) and now they had run out of food. They were frightened to the extent that they began to think about the “good ole days” back in Egypt, when they use to sing and eat. They became discouraged before they had hardly gotten started. They had been on the road only a few days and because they had missed a meal or two they were ready to go back to the slave camps of Egypt. The growling stomachs soon produced grumbling lips.
I want you to see five things that this passage shows us about complainers.
1. Complainers Always Find Something To Complain About!
Verses one through four of Chapter sixteen reveals, “And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. (2) Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. (3) And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
Amazingly enough the children of Israel have seemed to learn nothing from their past experience of God’s faithfulness and care and again give into self-pity, grumbling and complain-ing. Yet we have to admit that all to often when faced with difficulties and problems we cannot personally solve we give in to despair and complaint.
The truth is that some of us make grumbling an art form. We grumble habitually, only taking off for Sunday’s, some-times that is. We grumble if we are caught in slow moving traffic, if our meal at the restaurant is not delivered in a timely manner, lots of things make us grumble and grouse.
I want you to notice with me some of the characteristics of complaining or grumbling.
- Grumbling is gratitude problem.
Grumbling comes as a response to pain or problems in life. We grumble because we think that we should experience pleasure rather than pain and prosperity rather than adversity.
Whenever we are tempted to murmur and complain we need to review the past and remember how the LORD has blessed us! Many of us are like the person who said,
“My car broke down and it cost me P400 to get it fixed…. P400 that I did not have. Why me Lord? After all, I’ve been better than most. Why are you treating me this way? Why are you punishing me this way? Then the TV went on the blink, and so did the dishwasher, and the clothes dryer and the lawn mower, and even the iron! Why me, Lord? Besides that, why, at my age, should I still be having financial problems? Why am I not “set” financially like some others I know? Why have you denied me opportunities for fame and fortune that you have given to others? Why me, Lord? When I find myself starting to think like this, it sometimes helps for me to ask the same questions about the other aspects of my life. Lord, what have I done that is so grand that you should have blessed me with a car, a TV set, a clothes- dryer, and an iron? Why did you give me all these things anyway? Why me, Lord? Lord, why did you permit me to be born in America with all its plenty? I could have been born in poverty-stricken Bangladesh instead of rich America. Why me, Lord? Lord, why did you give me the opportunity to have a job when so many, who are as deserving as I, are without work? Why me, Lord?
Lord, why did you give me good health? Others have died at my age of heart attacks or are crippled by accidents or disease. Why should I escape ill health when other religious people do not? Why me, Lord? Lord, why have you spared me from the sorrows that strike so many other families? Others, wonderful people, have lost close relatives, but I haven’t. Why me, Lord?
When I think of all the ways the Lord has blessed me, though I don’t deserve it. I wonder how I could possibly complain about the relatively insignificant things that go wrong in my life from time to time. If I could only learn to count my blessings.” [Ted Kyle and John Todd. A Treasury of Bible Illustrations. “Why Me Lord?” # 260 (Nashville: AMG Publishers, 1995) pp/ 96-97.]
- Grumbling is a perception problem.
The problem is that when we grumble our perception is faulty. Grumbling invariably causes us to distort the facts. (a) There is exaggerated memory of the past. The children of Israel exaggerated in their minds the benefits of Egypt. They said they “sat” by their flesh pots and
ate “all they wanted” of a great variety of foods and meats. As slaves this could hardly be true. They conveniently forgot about the lash of the taskmaster and the anguish of their hearts to be free as they did the backbreaking work of the Pharaoh. (b) Their perception of the imminent danger of starvation was also greatly exaggerated.
- Grumbling is a contagious problem.
According to verse 2, “Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained…” What had begun with only a few now had contaminated the whole congregation.
2. Complainers Have Already Failed The Test!
God responds gently and graciously to the grumblings of the Israelites. Verse four says, “Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.”
“What an interesting announcement. ‘I will meet your need for hunger, but the meeting of that need will bring another test.’ Have you found that to be true? I have. We find ourselves in the midst of some predicament that we cannot escape. So God says. ‘I’ll provide the way out: I’ll show you the way.’ We accept his answer, His new direction, which introduces us to a whole new set of tests and trials of a different kind. So while we are relieved of one wilderness problem, we gain a new one.” [Charles Swindoll. Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication. (Nashville: Word Pub., 1999) p. 238]
According to verse four the daily gift was intended as a test. “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.” Gathering of manna was a test of their obedience.
3. Complainers Are Always Looking For Someone To Blame!
They accused Moses of leading them into the wilderness to kill them. They thought that they were only venting their frustrations on a man like themselves, but in reality they were grumbling against God. In verse six Moses tells the children of Israel, “… At evening you shall know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt. (7) And in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD; for He hears your complaints against the LORD. But what are we, that you complain against us?” (8) Also Moses said, “This shall be seen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and in the morning bread to the full; for the LORD hears your complaints which you make against Him. And what are we? Your com-plaints are not against us but against the LORD.” Moses declares to them “the LORD hears your complaints which you make against Him.” (v. 8). As Moses clearly pointed out to them grumbling was not a protest of his leadership, but of God’s.
4. Complainers Are Never Satisfied With What They Are Given
Beginning in verse 13 we find out how God provided for Israel’s needs. “So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. (14) And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. (15) So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.
Psalm 78 call’s manna “angel food.” Every morning the angels brought down this heavenly food and literally spread it before them. They did not have to work for it. They did not have to prepare it. All they had to do was eat it, but they still did not like it.
The manna was described as having appeared in flakes or small round grains. It is described in Exodus 16:31 as being “like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” Numbers 11:5-6, records the feelings of the children of Israel towards this manna, “We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; (6) but now our whole being is dried up (that is that they have lost their appetites) ; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” You can almost hear the “yech” in their voices! Even when the people of God are being fed in abundance they grumble. Why? Because the food God provides is not what they would have preferred. We want steak and God provides bologna.
5. Complainers Are Never Satisfied With How Much They Are Given
In verse sixteen the children of Israel are given specific instructions about how to gather the manna. “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded: ‘Let every man gather it according to each one’s need, one omer for each person, according to the number of persons; let every man take for those who are in his tent.’” (17) Then the children of Israel did so and gathered, some more, some less. …… (19) And Moses said, “Let no one leave any of it till morning.” (20) Notwithstanding they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.”
Having run out of food in the wilderness, so that the Israelites feared that they would starve to death, one can only imagine the zeal with which they harvested the first provision of manna. There was enough manna, it would seem, for every Israelite to have filled his tent. But the efforts to hoard the manna were direct disobedience to the God’s instructions. It would seem that Israel was guilty of two sins; greed and grumbling.
“Now a Conservative estimate of the total number of Israelites who came out of Egypt would be two million for they had six hundred thousand men able to go forth to war (Numbers 1:45-46). An “omer” was to be gathered for every one of these two million souls and an “omer” is the equivalent of six pints. There would be twelve million pints, or nine thousand pounds gathered daily, which was four thousand five hundred tons. Hence, ten trains, each having thirty cars and each car having fifteen tons would be needed for a single day’s supply. Over a million tons of manna were gathered annually by Israel.” [Arthur Pink. Gleanings in Exodus. (Chicago: Moody, 1981.) pp. 124-125.] Was God not generous to them. According to verse 35 he did for forty years, “And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.”
While it is not my intention to examine the whole story of the manna with all it its many spiritual implications, but I do what us to notice a few simple applications.
- It teaches us to look to the Lord for our supply. The Israelite are told that this supply will come “from heaven for you.”
- It teaches us to look to the LORD daily for our needs. The manna was to be gathered daily. Fresh food must be gathered every day. You cannot live on yesterday’s blessings. We must have something fresh every day. We cannot live today on the gathered provisions of yesterday. Dependence is a daily matter. Everyday fresh problems will arise to test whether or not we will depend on God.
- It teaches us that to feed on Christ is the only secret of strength and blessedness. The Lord himself founded a sermon on this story (John 6:22-58). In this great story Jesus not only fed the 5,000 to provide for the physical needs, he used it as a picture to present to them their spiritual needs. He uses a play-on-words to draw them back to the story of the Israelites in the wilderness. Here God provided “bread from heaven.” Here he describes himself as the “bread of heaven” not just to meet their physical needs but to give them eternal life.