Expectations vs. Reality.
There’s a reason why that’s an entire meme. The glorious pictures we paint in our heads are never the same as reality.
And the moment we finally realize that is actually the worst.
I felt that a lot as a kid. Whenever my parents and my brother and I were planning a vacation, I would daydream all day long, imagining a glorious hotel and endless fun. I remember how dampened I would feel when the vacation finally arrived and I realized that my reality was just a leetle bit different from my expectations.
There had to be a little of that among the Israelites, especially now as they get closer and closer to the Promised Land. In Numbers 34, God tells them exactly what land they will take possession of. He gives them very specific boundaries between their land and the land of the people around them.
No cheese to go with the whine
How was it? I wonder if any of the Israelites were disappointed with their reality. I wonder if any of them asked “Why didn’t He give us more?” Maybe their favorite fruit tree wouldn’t grow in their chunk of land. Maybe they thought God should have given them furnished houses instead of making them build. Maybe someone’s mother died before she could reach the Promised Land, and they couldn’t let go of their bitterness.
Maybe, just a little bit, and only to themselves, they started to complain.
That would be disgusting, right? And ungrateful. And arrogant. It also wouldn’t be a surprise, because we’re all familiar with the Israelites and how they roll. They’ve done worse.
We’re also all familiar with how similar we are to the Israelites. We’re just as arrogant and ungrateful.
It’s actually one of my pet peeves, hearing someone say “Why, God?” or blame Him or insist that He can’t be real because things aren’t perfect. I want to scream at them that we should be grateful. That we don’t deserve the tiniest thing from Him. That we mess up all of His blessings with our sin.
The gag is that I do the exact same thing. I get mad at God over petty things, like catching a cold or waking up too late. I expect God to make everything in my life go smoothly, just because I say a prayer and have a little worship.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting on acres of blessings. God has marked out a life for me. He placed sweet friendships within my boundary lines and loving parents. He tucked a job inside my boundary lines, and an education.
And all the while, I was skipping my devotional time. I was ignoring His voice. I was treating my body like garbage. I was falling into addictions and sins.
I was making a mess of the land He gave me.
And yet I dare to complain?
But we act like this all the time. We say it’s cause we’re only human, but it’s more than just a character quirk.
When we act like this, it’s like we’re substituting the real God for a man. We’re acting like people who don’t believe.
The real God hung the earth on nothing and knows every star by name. The real God knows the hearts of kings and presidents and yet still sees every tear you cry. The real God was bruised and tortured and beaten for crimes we committed all because He is in love with us.
Belief in that God is completely incompatible with complaining.
Belief in that God can only cause endless rejoicing.
“You are immeasurably blessed.”
But we don’t get it.
We get incredulous when we don’t get what we want, forgetting that if our sins got the punishment they deserved, we wouldn’t be around to even get what we need.
We get angry when we see evil around us, ignoring the fact that it’s because of our own stubborn selfishness that God is allowing sin to play out before our eyes and prove that He is the only way.
We become rebellious when we experience pain, not understanding that it takes the truest Love to allow temporary pain in order to prevent eternal loss.
We complain, acting as if the God we serve has not given us so much more than we could ever deserve.
I want to stop complaining. The next time I’m frustrated with God, I want to think about what He’s done for me versus what I’ve done for Him. I want the difference to sink in. And then after that, I want gratitude to sink in.
And then I want to go back to my plot of land and continue to develop it and enjoy it and improve it, knowing that He gave me life for a reason.
What do you think? What has God given you in your plot of land? Share this with someone.
One thought on “The Cure for Complaining (Numbers 34)”
Our way of complaining and feeling entitled to everything is an ugly trait of character. One of the ways God can treat this behavior is to remove the blessings that we feel entitled to.