‘But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses.” Exodus 17.3
Time and time again we read of the Israelites wandering in the desert grumbling about their lot, and comparing what they had with some idealised memory of the past in which they conveniently forgot the harder parts.
If we are honest, we can probably identify with their grumbling, as this is something we all tend to indulge in many times throughout the day.
Grumbling often begins when we start to look at what we do not have, rather than what we do have. When that happens, rather than dwelling on what we have in abundance we tend to focus on what we lack, which can easily lead on to apportioning blame for our lack and judging others. This is exactly what the Israelites did – they took their eyes off their freedom, off their vision of God and off the divine provision given to them on a daily basis and recalled a rosy past, forgetting the slavery, beatings and helplessness of their previous situation.
We may not be wandering in a desert and have never been slaves, but what we do have in common with the Israelites is our propensity to grumble, to take our eyes off what we have and fix them on what we do not. Take a moment to pause, thank God for something you do have as you touch each finger of both hands; keep going if you want to, even after your fingers have run out! God always wants us to come to him with our needs, but by beginning to give thanks our awareness of his goodness to us will increase.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission
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