In Numbers 11, God sets people on fire for complaining.
Ten chapters later, God sends poisonous snakes to bite people for complaining.
Of all the things on earth God hates so much that He kills people for it, I wouldn’t think complaining would be the top of the list. Granted, the Israelites weren’t in the greatest of conditions, so a little complaining about the lack of food selection and spartan conditions seems allowable.
But no. Boom, dead.
I realized today that when we complain, it’s because we have an alternate reality in our minds, and we wish that it was actual reality.
Who creates actual realities? God.
When we are grateful, however, it’s kind of like taking inventory of things that are real and present in our lives. Gratitude is a way of pulling ourselves down from the clouds and into the very realness of our own lives.
If you were to make a list of ten things in your life you’re grateful for, you’d be making a list of things and people and circumstances in your life that are real, more than imagining a reality you wish you inhabited and then bemoaning the disparity between the two.
By being grateful, we remind ourselves of real things.
When we complain, we are hung up on the imaginary.
Not only that, but gratitude is the root of our worship. You cannot worship God and complain at the same time. But when we acknowledge what God has given us, it naturally escalates to worship. Think about the first words of the doxology:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
The implication is that we have received blessings from God, and this leads us to praise God. I used to wonder why that was the first thing used to identify God in such a primary song. Why is the fact that He gives us blessings the greatest thing about Him? But now I get it: It’s starting from the human perspective of recognizing that we have been blessed, and this leads us to worship.
So, have you taken time to be grateful lately?
Let us reflect on the reality we inhabit, and all the things God has given us here and now, rather than imagining our own worlds and longing for them. (complaining)