Posted by: mikenicholsblog | February 29, 2016

you want meat with that whine?

At the Presidential debate last week, one of the candidates stated that was he labeled with the term whiner. The label came because of his frustration over not being asked many questions. The candidate — Dr. Ben Carson — who was labeled with that term is a great man and, in my estimation, is anything but a whiner. His mild-mannered demeanor has relegated him to the background during (what I believe are) less than “presidential” debates. Nevertheless, the term was used and, like it or not, it is a relevant phrase in our daily lives.

Don’t you hate to hear people whine about their circumstances? There is a part of me that cringes when someone goes on about their negative plight while forgetting all the blessings God has bestowed on them. We have all experienced His blessings and yet, somehow can easily develop a whining spirit that poisons our minds and exits our lips on a regular basis. I must admit, during my prayer time on Saturday, confession needed to be made about whining. I had read about the children of Israel, and was reminded anew of the depth of their complaining. They were whiners, but I had also found reason to be convicted of my own whining.

Manna had become God’s food of choice for the children of Israel … and there was some grumbling. Being miraculously freed from Egypt and supernaturally guided and fed by God had lost some of its specialness to the people. In the language of The Message, note the scene from Numbers chapter eleven:

The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, “Why can’t we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt—and got it free!—to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna.”

The riffraff (non-Israelites) had come out of Egypt with the Israelites and it didn’t take them long in the desert to be discontented. They infected the Israelites. Moses was caught in the middle and was exceedingly unhappy about it. In verse ten of the same chapter we find these words:

 Moses heard the whining, all those families whining in front of their tents. God’s anger blazed up. Moses saw that things were in a bad way. 

The remainder of the chapter is dramatic, to say the least. The people whined for meat and they got meat. The Message gives God’s perspective clearly in verses eighteen through twenty.

Tell the people, “Consecrate yourselves. Get ready for tomorrow when you’re going to eat meat. You’ve been whining to God, ‘We want meat; give us meat. We had a better life in Egypt.’ God has heard your whining and he’s going to give you meat. You’re going to eat meat. And it’s not just for a day that you’ll eat meat, and not two days, or five or ten or twenty, but for a whole month. You’re going to eat meat until it’s coming out your nostrils. You’re going to be so sick of meat that you’ll throw up at the mere mention of it. And here’s why: Because you have rejected God who is right here among you, whining to his face, ‘Oh, why did we ever have to leave Egypt?’”

Without a doubt, it’s easy to look with disdain on the lack of thankfulness and whining by the children of Israel. But don’t we also whine over far less difficult circumstances? I don’t want to admit it, but for me the answer is sometimes yes. What about you? Could it be that our perspective gets tainted by what is happening right now and by our lack of ability to control the events and people in our lives? Living horizontally always casts a view of what isn’t right, and what we can’t control. Living vertically (with eyes fixed on Christ) will always lend perspective to what really matters and God’s control over it. If He wants manna for our lives who are we to say, “Give us meat.”

Last week, I missed the opportunity to relish what God was doing, and became a little of what I hate … a whiner. God’s Word gave me a dramatic picture of the Israelites and I was convicted to confess my sin. What about you? Are you missing the blessings and focusing on all that is “not right”? Confess it, and determine to let Christ and His perspective dominate your life this week!

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