Some thoughts on gratitude

We’ve just celebrated the Passover in Israel, which of course commemorates the deliverance of the Children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt by God, through His servants Moses and Aaron. God commands us to remember these events and teach our children about them, which I think we do a pretty good job of. But there’s some part of the story which I’ve never heard or seen anyone teaching their children, or anyone else about. Specifically, the part of the Exodus story I think we ought to teach our children about better is the causes and consequences of the “grumbling” that the Israelites did against Moses and Aaron and, ultimately, against God Himself.

There are several passages in the Book of Exodus which mention this phenomenon and then again in Numbers 14:2 it says “All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!”

This grumbling came in reaction to hardships they had encountered while making their way from Egypt to the Promised Land, and although it describes literal historic events, I believe this passage also serves as a good metaphor for what you and I often do ourselves when we encounter difficulties in our own individual journeys out of whatever “Egypt” God delivered us from and on our way to the destiny He has prepared for us, which promises to be glorious beyond anything we can think or imagine.

Just like the Israelites, we might continue to “grumble” and/or worry about hardships we encounter no matter how many times our Heavenly Father miraculously delivers us from them, sometimes even within days or even hours of the last deliverance.

God doesn’t like it when we complain about these hardships. That can be seen quite plainly just a few verses late in Numbers 14:-29 when God tells Moses to tell the Israelites “your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had some bad days in my life, days when things happened, or I received news that could only be described as devastating. Sometimes it doesn’t even take devastation to get me in a mood to complain, sometimes I feel like complaining just about normal day-to-day inconveniences.

At such moments, it’s always important to remember Romans 8:28, which says “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

As I look back on my life, I can see that some of those days which seemed, at the time, to be the worst days of my life (up to that point) ultimately changed the trajectory of my life in a way that brought me to something much better than what I would have arrived at if I’d stayed on the trajectory I’d been on before they happened. Sometimes God sends a disaster into the lives of an individual or a nation because that’s the only way He can get them on the trajectory that they need to be on to bring them to the wonderful things He’s prepared for them.

So, as 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Develop, as the old cliché goes, “an attitude of gratitude” for everything that happens to you, from little things like having the money to pay your bills to big things like having a body which is healthy and whole and which doesn’t suffer chronic pain. But give thanks for problems too, whether you enjoy the momentary happening of them or not, because if you’re walking with the Lord, everything that happens to you along the path you and He walk together is for your good, and it’s bringing you one step closer to your own, personal “Promised Land.”

But if you grumble and complain, you grieve God, and He might decide to treat you the way He treated the generation He was speaking to in Numbers 14:29. Even if He doesn’t, if we love our Heavenly Father, we don’t want to do things which cause Him pain, and that absolutely includes grumbling about hassles and hardships which, as irritating and worrying as they might be, pale in comparison to all the good things we receive from Him, to say nothing of the unimaginably wonderful future they’re bringing us closer to.

That’s something I plan to teach my own children, and I invite you to consider teaching it to yours as well.