Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Attitude of Gratitude

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Have you ever thought back to a time that seemed to be associated with great memories...a time period in which you would gladly take the opportunity to revisit? These times are usually associated with memories of happiness and fulfillment.

As I read Numbers Chapter 11 last night, I couldn't help but think that the Israelites must have felt this way in the midst of their long march to the Promised Land; however, they take their desire for happiness too far. They can't seem to grasp that we can never "have it all" if we are true and obedient children of the one true God. They grumble, complain, and continually gripe to God about what they don't have. Keep in mind that their needs are provided for. Bottom line is that they are not grateful for the blessings they do have. We have to trust that the Lord will provide for all of our needs (not our wants). It's also important to remember, however, that He always hears the prayers of His faithful children. He knows and provides for the needs of those who are obedient to Him.
The Israelites are not just in request for more, but they are actually testing God! They are on very dangerous ground for these actions. Therefore, God disciplines the Israelites for their greed and unwarranted complaints. God's plan for the Israelites is to give them freedom in a new homeland, which in many ways is an opportunity for a fresh start.
As I read this, I was convicted that I can strive harder to have the "attitude of gratitude" in my life at all times. We may have a really rough day, for instance, and begin to focus on why everything seems to be going wrong instead of praying ourselves through the day and being grateful for what we are given. But, really, how different are we in our everyday lives from the Israelites? Do we live hours, days, weeks, months, or years with an attitude such as theirs? Even an upright man like Moses had to be reminded of his blessings.

Here's the question that really convicted me last night:

Do we tend to focus on the blessings God has given us?
Do we focus on the blessings we could have but have not been given (do we envy others' blessings)?
The conclusion I came to is this: when our hearts are truly focussed on the Lord, we will be content; however, misery will fill our lives when our hearts are not right with God. Remember, there is nothing wrong whatsoever with making requests to God. There is a problem, however, with making requests when we are not grateful for what we do have or out of envy. Where do we stand on a daily basis with our "attitude of gratitude"?
The Israelite's Complaint
Numbers 11:1-6 (NAS, emphasis mine)
1 Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. 2 The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord and the fire died out. 3 So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them.

4 The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, "Who will give us meat to eat? 5 We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, 6 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna."
God's Response
Numbers 11:31-34 (NAS, emphasis mine)
31 Now there went forth a wind from the Lord and it brought quail from the sea, and let them fall beside the camp, about a day's journey on this side and a day's journey on the other side, all around the camp and about two cubits deep on the surface of the ground. 32 The people spent all day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail (he who gathered least gathered ten homers) and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 33 While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very severe plague. 34 So the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had been greedy.

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