By David Wise
As we’ve been going through The Story each week, I’ve found myself overwhelmed with the amount of content to cover. Different chapters in the story can cover dozens of chapters from the Bible. This has left a lot of weeks where there were side veins I would have loved to explore but because of the focus of the series, we’ve stayed on the major storyline of the Bible.
Going through the story of the Israelites wandering through the wilderness (Chapter 6 in The Story), I was struck by the Israelites’ attitude toward God. The Lord delivered them from Egypt, led them through the Red Sea, guided them by pillars of clouds and fire, and even dwelt among them in the Tabernacle. God has given them manna every single day, enough for 2 million people on top of that, and yet the Israelites want to go back to Egypt for melons, cucumbers, leaks, onion, and garlic (seriously who was craving that combination… I would have been missing steak, sweet potatoes, and ice cream). As we read about the grumbling and complaining that spread amongst the Israelites I was convicted by the Holy Spirit.
So often I look at the Israelites and condemn their lack of faith and trust. I criticize their disobedience and thick-headedness. I scoff and am shocked at their attitude toward the Great Provider, and yet if I’m honest I am continually reminded of how similar I am to them.
God has provided for all of my needs: beautiful wife, incredible kids, healthy family, dream job, home that we own, two cars, and money for necessities and non-necessities. We have more than we need and yet in recent weeks I’ve felt my heart pulled toward discontentment just like the Israelites.
We’ve lived in the same house for 6 years and it’s starting to feel small. There are 3 bedrooms and a small living room for 5 of us to live life in. During the past during the past few weeks I have been longing for a larger home, more bedrooms, maybe a game room for the kids. While it’s not wrong to think about a dream home or look at what might be out there, I can tell you that I was beginning to grumble and complain. God, we could do more ministry in our home if it was larger. God, I would be less stressed if I had an office at home to read in each morning where I wouldn’t wake the kids up early. It became more than just the house.
Eventually grumbling and complaining can spread to other areas. Car, paycheck, family, relational dynamics, and before you know it discontent has been spread just like it was with the Israelites. To combat this mindset and attitude, I put into practice a habit that some friends from LifeGroup have told me about. The idea is to make a list of blessings God has given and to give thanks for what He’s already provided. I’m not much of a list maker, but the idea has been priceless. Instead of wanting more and grumbling and complaining I’m able to reflect on God’s provision and praise Him in the midst of it.
This week my heart has been changed to see the benefits of the house we live in: the mortgage is small enough that we’ve been able to be more and more generous, the size brings our family physically closer and forces us to spend more time together, we live in the middle of our community and are close to the church building and the kids’ school. Although the house is just one example of what can happen with a little grumbling and complaining, for me it’s been an important one.
It begins as a little discontent and potentially ends as a great deal of dissatisfaction. The opposite is also true, what begins as a little thanksgiving can build into a life of praise. The God of the universe has provided over and above what I deserve and more than what we need and it’s time to be thankful and put his provision to good use.