25 Feb 2015

Thoughts on Spiritual Amnesia

Recently while sitting in a class I am taking, the lecturer made a statement that seemingly was so simple but blared out like a foghorn. The lecturer was expounding on our study of Moses specifically Numbers 11. For the sake of today’s blog I will extract verse 1 of the 11th chapter of Numbers (NIV). It reads, “Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord, and when he heard them his anger was aroused.” The lecturer made the statement that “Complaining is a sin, crying out to God is not”. Wow, what a thought provoking, insightful statement to make you instantly playback words that have impulsively flowed from our mouths.

Numbers 11 describes the journey of the Israelites after they have been delivered from Egypt. While continuing their travels to the Promised Land it amazes me how quickly they become struck with what I call “spiritual amnesia”. This nation of people has miraculously been freed from years of slavery, and given a divine promise of a land of their own, but somewhere along the way their minds take them back to what they now see as “the good life”. The Israelites are perfect examples of how we can become complacent and satisfied in our comfort zones even though we are literal slaves to something or someone else!

The Israelites complained about the conditions they had to endure, the limited variety of food they had to eat as opposed to what they now recall as the daily “buffet” they had in Egypt. They complained about their leader and questioned not only his capabilities to lead but his motives as well.

Since delving into this study in Numbers, it has caused me to literally dissect my thoughts, my conversations, my tone of voice, and my outlook on life. When we complain we are complaining against God and questioning His judgment and plan for our lives just like the Israelites did Moses. I know it isn’t easy to see it from that perspective, but sometimes the truth hurts! Does God get angry when we complain . . .well the word of God certainly substantiates that fact. I don’t know about you, but God’s anger is not something I ever want to provoke. But really there is a huge difference between complaining and crying out to God.

When we cry out to God, we can tell him that although this is an uncomfortable situation that we’re in and we want it to end sooner than later, we also know that His plan and process for our lives is what is best. Although we are unable to see the ultimate outcome, we can stand on the words of Jeremiah 29: 11 (NIV), “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. When we cry out to God the words of Jeremiah 29: 11 are the foundation of our words.

It is not a bad thing to tell God that we hurt, we’re angry, we’re confused, and we want things to get better. But it is a bad thing to fuss at God and question His process. Grumbling and complaining is our way of putting demands on God and throwing a tantrum just like a child! And how do good parents usually respond to their child’s tantrums? Well it’s been my experience that it normally results in the child being ignored or if it continues, punishment is in order. As adults we don’t like to be viewed or view ourselves in an immature state. Yet, we must admit we can do some childish things that not only affect the heart of God, but ultimately could affect our future and entrance into our Promised Land.

I learned a long time ago that things may be bad but they can certainly get worse. Our relationship with God is strengthened by the lessons we learn and methods He chooses to teach us. He has blessed us immeasurably and continues to do so every day that we are given the miracle of life. When we worship Him and praise Him for all that He’s done for us, we have less time to look back and less time to complain about temporary circumstances. Come on and join me this week, and start a list of your blessings. I promise you’ll run out of space listing your blessings much faster than by listing your complaints!