THE COMPLAINTS OF CHILDREN

As most people know, I grew up as the seventh out of ten children. Our house was not exactly huge, but my parents made it work. My dad worked hard, and my mom was a master of stretching a budget, so we always had what we needed. Despite this, I remember feeling disgruntled when I focused on what we did not have. We did not have some of the expensive things that our friends did. Thus, we always wanted to go over to our friends’ houses. Most days, the last place I wanted to be was in the well-stocked, comfortable, and loving space my parents had provided for us. I was a child, and the grass was always greener elsewhere.

In Numbers 11:1-15, we see a similar story with the descendants of Israel. Not for the first nor the last time, we see the people complaining, but this short passage includes a double dose of it. The first three verses are vague, indicating that they are complaining about general hardships. The next twelve verses give a more detailed story. Despite the fact that God had delivered them miraculously away from a murderous Pharaoh, and in disregard for God’s care for the children since they had entered the wilderness, they are disgruntled about Manna.

Manna was the miraculous food that God delivered to Jacob’s children each night. It is described in this passage as tasting like a pastry cooked with the finest oil. I don’t know about you but that sounds like cake to me. It is hard to think of people getting cake, fresh from God’s bakery and being unhappy about it. I know that 10-year-old me would have been so happy with that idea. However, I also know that 10-year-old me, in typical childish fashion would have done much the same thing eventually and started wanting something else. That is what children do; out of boredom, selfishness, greed, and more boredom, they ignore the blessing of being provided for, and they cry for more… different… something… anything else.

As Moses wandered about, listening to the complaints about no meat, he felt the pain of every babysitter who is left in charge of rowdy, spoiled terrors, wondering why he took this job. As you keep reading, there is much to learn from how God responds, but I think this one point is sufficient for me today: There is so much I can complain about, and I could spend all day wishing to live somewhere else or wanting things to go back to the way they were before. But that is what a child would do. Children whine and complain. Adults get over the things that are tough, and keep moving forward, remembering how undeservedly generous God has already been, and counting on the promises He has given us for what is to come. The point is: Let’s not be children who whine. Let’s be mature believers who uplift, remind, and encourage one another.

by Ben Urban, Student Ministries Pastor

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