Gratitude or not? ∙
Even if we butchered all our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them? Even if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough? – Numbers 11:22
1 Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the LORD heard everything they said. Then the LORD’s anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, destroying some people in the camp’s outskirts.
2 Then the people screamed to Moses for help, and when he prayed to the LORD, the fire stopped.
4 Then the foreign rabble traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed.
5 “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted.”
6 “But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”
8 The people would go out and gather it from the ground. They made flour by grinding it with hand mills or pounding it in mortars. Then they boiled it in a pot and made it into flat cakes. These cakes tasted like pastries baked with olive oil.
9 The manna came down on the camp with the dew during the night.
10 Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the LORD became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated.
11 And Moses said to the LORD, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people?”
How much does it take for us to have enough and be grateful?
John D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much money is enough money?” He replied, “Just a little bit more.”
Rockefeller may ultimately be remembered simply for the raw size of his wealth. In 1902, an audit showed Rockefeller was worth about $200 million – compared to the total national wealth of the United States that year of $101 billion. Rockefeller’s net worth over the last decades of his life would easily place him among the wealthiest persons in history.
In many ways, Rockefeller echoes the hunger in our own hearts. Whether it’s directed at one thing in particular or a vague longing for “more.” But in reality, “more” is never enough.
There is a more excellent way – being grateful.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all the others” (Cicero).
“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual” (Thoreau).
“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer” (Maya Angelou).
“O Lord that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness!!” (Shakespeare).
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around” (Willie Nelson).
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” (Karl Barth).
The Father does not simply want us to be grateful for what we have. He wants us to be thankful for all things. King David learned this lesson early in life and lived it. David gives us glimpses throughout the Psalms.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth.
26 My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
28 But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
As we grow older, the vitality of youth gives way to weariness and loss of strength due to aging. There often is limited mobility and sometimes chronic pain and frustration. It is all too easy to lose heart, become discontent, and ultimately bitter. This regrettably leads to a demanding and ungrateful spirit. We find ourselves complaining and resentful. This downward cycle continues until the Father opens the eyes of our hearts to what we have become.
In the doldrums of our discontentment and resentment, we often hurt many along the way. Often it is those closest to us. So our forgiveness needs not only to be vertical but also horizontal. When we finally see, we can confess and seek forgiveness. We need to ask for forgiveness from those we hurt en route to despair.
REFLECT & PRAY
Wanting more in and of itself is not a bad thing. Wanting more of the Father is a great thing.
Father how I long to have the heart that David had in his great love and devotion to You. I know that nothing on this earth will ever satisfy me as You alone can.
Complaining became the national pastime for the children of Israel when they were in the wilderness. The more they complained, the more self-centered they became. It seems they were never satisfied and always grumbling about the Father’s provision (Exodus 17:1-3). The Father sent manna from heaven (Exodus 16:4). But instead of rejoicing and being grateful for the Father’s provision, they wanted more. They pined for different food (Numbers 11:4). The children of Israel wanted something more, something better, something else, or even something they used to have (Numbers 11:4-6).
Psalms 16 is a highly personal hymn of joy that focuses on the Father’s goodness. David finds his delight only in the Father and confesses that everything good in his life has come from Him. David expresses joy, praise, humility, and submission to the divine will.
David depended upon the Father to keep him safe. He needed the Father’s constant care and oversight of all the good things that the Father alone provided. For David, the Father was his highest good and greatest treasure.
Regrettably, our longing, hungry hearts take us on desperate, futile quests for satisfaction. David shows us a better way to live. Rather than wanting more things, wealth, power, recognition, etc., he found true contentment was not found “out there.” Instead, David learned the secret and joy of being at home in the Father’s presence.
More than that, David truly delighted in being close to the Father. The source of David’s greatest joy was being with the Father.
Psalms 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence, there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalms 16:11 is unsurpassed for the beauty of the possibilities. It begins in words of the utmost simplicity. The path of life is a way to live, leading to life with the Father. It leads into His presence and eternity. The joys and pleasures David speaks of are utterly satisfying and endlessly varied. They are found in what the Father is and what the Father gives (Kidner).
The Hebrew word translated as “in your presence” is literally in your panim, “faces.” The sense is close proximity, companionship, care, and protection.
How can we ever be satisfied? What is enough? When we learn the art of gratitude, we will be satisfied. The Father is pleased when His children are content and offer Him grateful praise.
Isaiah 30:15 In quietness and trust is your strength.
© Dr. H 2022