Marcia Kester Doyle is a mother of four children. To help ease an already tight household budget, she stayed home with them, while also working three different in-home jobs.
What she did not earn financially, she made up for with what she offered her family. Her kids had a roof over their heads, clothes in the closet, and full bellies. She cooked dinner and packed lunch boxes. She washed and folded laundry, vacuumed and dusted each bedroom. She solved difficult math homework and read bedtime stories. She chased away nightmares at all hours of the night. She clocked hours driving children to choir practice and church services, to their friend’s homes and practice fields. She stayed up all night to cool down a fever and mopped up each sloppy mess during flu season.
As the kids grew, they grew aware of the family’s financial limitations. It left her youngest, now a teenager, frustrated. He realized that he did not have as much stuff as others his age. So, he accused Marcia of being the cause for his lack of money. He challenged when she would get a “real job.” He even grumbled, What have you done for me? (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/marcia-kester-doyle-/rude-children-_b_5589057.html)
That stings, doesn’t it? That ungrateful attitude failed to realize that everything he had came from his mother. Yet, that’s what ungratefulness does, right? Ungratefulness treasures something that is not really treasure at all. That’s what makes an ungrateful attitude so dangerous. It fails to appreciate real treasure.
So, God records this Old Testament account so that ungratefulness does not poison your heart (1 Corinthians 10:6). Trace Earthly Blessings to Your Eternal Blessing. See The LORD remove worthless grumbling and see The LORD satisfy your every need.
For 430 years Old Testament Israel slaves away in Egypt! (Exodus 12:40) (That’s almost twice as long as our nation’s existence!) Pounding out clay bricks under a scorching desert sun. Leather whips snapping bare backs. Sweat streaming from head to toe while cracking grain in the stuffy, sweltering mills. Twelve, fourteen, sixteen hours each day. No vacation. No freedom to begin whenever. Seven days a week, 52-weeks each year, for 430 years!
And God hears their groaning (Exodus 2:24-25). His ten powerful plagues rip through the laws of nature. Water becomes stinky, sewer-gas-smelling blood. Gnat and fly swarms blot out sunlight. Frogs and locust squirm over every surface. Darkness, hailstorms, boils break out; the angel of the LORD takes away the life of those who stand against him. Then God grabs Old Testament Israel by the hand and walks them out of the fields, out of their homes, out of slavery. He splits the Red Sea in half and dries the ground so millions could reach other side.
Imagine standing high on a rocky ledge, watching walls of water stand in place. Watch the Egyptian armored chariots race after these hobbling slaves. Powerful warhorses grunting, soldiers clutching spears, hooves pounding earth. Just then— chariot wheels spin off! Confused soldiers toddle around the sea-floor. The moment the last Israelite steps onto level ground, the walls of the sea collapse on every single soldier (13:17-14:30). Is there any question that God cares?
Then you get this reading. One month after witnessing God subdue the superpower of the ancient world, the Israelites grumble. They’re hungry. “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” God, what have you done for us? A better question would be: What hasn’t God done?
God has allowed you to live in one of the most prosperous nations in world history. People own two homes, meaning two sets of property taxes, two sets of appliances, and two maintenance schedules. Just a short time ago owning two cars was considered a luxury. Drive down any street in town and you see at least two cars in every driveway. People do not own just enough property for a house; they own acres just to have. Go home, open the fridge and cabinets, and find food on every shelf. Crack open the closet door and find sets of clothes lasting for weeks. Look in your bedroom and see a roomful of toys! Drive down the street and find banks and doctors. Is there any question God cares?
Still, somehow in spite of these many blessings, it never seems to be enough, does it? Never mind God put gas in your car to arrive here today and to return home; gripe that gas went up ten-cents (which is only about $1.20 more for a fill-up). Never mind God provides money so you can pay bills with extra left over for retirement(!); complain that you do not have as much as your friends. Never mind God hands you freedoms in America; just criticize your leaders (which, by the way, is actually criticizing God for the leaders he set in office [Romans 13:1-2]).
You see, grumbling, complaining, griping is not done in vacuum— as though you’re complaining to no one at all. You are not grumbling against [people], but against the Lord. God opens his hand and out pours everything needed to satisfy the desires of every living thing (Psalm 145:16). That’s why you have anything at all; God is handing you what you need for life. Ungratefulness reveals that you love your earthly possessions more than the One who gave them in the first place!
You know what? If it really feels as though God is wronging you by withholding something from you, then he would be completely fair to let you have your wish and get out of your life. “You want to return to Egypt? … live as slaves? … eat pots of meat until you die in hell forever? Fine! Have it your way! I’m gone!”… “Are you discontent over the money I give you? Do you want more cars, a bigger house, more gadgets? Is that the most important thing in life? Then fine, love your stuff more than me! By doing that, you will lose me forever.” Be sure, The LORD will remove worthless grumbling from his ears forever.
In love he has done just that; the LORD removes worthless grumbling. He removes your (and my) griping and criticizing by satisfying your only real need with Jesus, the Bread of Life (John 6:25-35). Look at our gospel reading; see the real satisfaction Jesus provides. Crowds search for enough food until they get hungry again; Jesus presents a feast of God’s Word which will fill the soul forever. Crowds want just another miracle; Jesus gives you his life. Israelites had their fill in the desert, but still died, but because Jesus dies, you never will.
See Jesus give thanks for the food he eats. See Jesus treasure his Father as a perfect Provider. See Jesus trust the Father to give him all things at the proper time. He does all this— not to shame you— but rather to live as your Substitute.
The LORD removes worthless grumbling with his death on the cross. With his resurrection the LORD satisfies your every need. He gives you forgiveness. He gives you peace. Something you can never buy. Something you can never earn. Something you possess now. Out of all the earthly blessings of life, you hold the most priceless of them all: unending life in heaven.
If you want contentment, then look no further than the cross of Jesus. That sight puts every earthly blessing into its proper perspective. God showered Israel with peace and forgiveness. Then he gives them even more. At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God. God would satisfy their hunger. Yet, do you see what else the manna and quail would do? Every evening when they went out and saw the quail fly in, every morning when they looked out and saw manna littering the ground, they would see God provided for their physical needs. They would realize this God is kind, loving, and forgiving. Those earthly blessings led to their Eternal Blessing.
That God has not changed. He still showers everything you need for life so that you may know that I am the Lord your God. Look at all the stuff packed into your house. See the cars in the garage, the boats in the water. Consider your freedoms and mobility. Do not to fixate on what you have, but rather reflect on how you received it. It’s as though every single possession has a string tied to it. Whatever you receive, take it into your hands and follow that string back to the One who gave it to you. Trace Earthly Blessings to Your Eternal Blessing. Know that Jesus made God your Father. Now, live confident this Father provides your every physical need.
That’s why you can pray with confidence: Give us this day our daily bread. Ask your God to provide what you need— not always what you want, not always what you think you need, but ask that he continue providing for all you need in life.
When you Trace Earthly Blessings to Your Eternal Blessing, you will always live content. That contentment will move you to action. [T]he Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” So, six days the camp would gather and on the seventh they would not work. The seventh day was a day of rest. Attentions would not be fixated on the chores to be done. Hearts would not delight in greed for more. Rather, a day of rest provided an opportunity to thank God for what they had received.
See the many, many things you have received. Maybe they are “big,” like a house, car, job, retirement. Remember the “small,” such as flowers, seasons, weather. Fuel to buy food. The leaders for safety. Money for comfort. These are all blessings from your gracious God and Father. The LORD satisfies your every need.
Ungratefulness treasures something that is not really treasure at all. That’s what makes an ungrateful attitude so dangerous. It fails to realize that everything you have comes from God.
So, God records this Old Testament account so that ungratefulness does not poison your heart (1 Corinthians 10:6). Set your sights on Jesus. He hands you heaven— and that’s not a hopeful wish; it’s a reality. Words like that fill your heart and soul through and through. There is nothing more you really need— and still, God graciously provides so much for everyday life.
Trace Earthly Blessings to Your Eternal Blessing. See The LORD remove worthless grumbling and see The LORD satisfy your every need.