Read: Numbers 11:1-35
“Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord,” Numbers 11:1a
He asked the Lord, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?” Numbers 11:11
This section of scripture is a perfect example of how rich God’s Word is with life lessons. I could go in so many topical directions when reading and thinking about this chapter.
I could write about how patient and long-suffering God is; about the sin and discontentment of the Israelites; the importance of delegation, or the fact that God listens to our prayers. But instead I am going to write about attitude.
Soon after graduating from college, I agreed to help chaperone a high school work crew at a Young Life Camp called Crooked Creek. I got to go enjoy the beautiful Rocky Mountains in Colorado for a week while doing hard, physical labor to help build the camp.
The camp directors were no dummies and they knew the tendencies of teenagers (and all humans for that matter) to complain when having to work hard, long hours. They knew that where there was hard work and difficulties, there was often complaining.
One of the first things they taught us at the camp was a rallying cry for those times when we wanted to complain. When murmuring or complaining started, the camp leaders would yell out, “ATTITUDE CHECK!” and we were to respond with, “PRAISE THE LORD!”
We got really good at this. We are mountaineers after all. We know how to yell rallying cries, LET’S GO!!!!!…
We got so good at it, that before the teens would speak a complaint, they, themselves, would yell, “ATTITUDE CHECK!” and all of our minds would turn to praising God. We learned quickly to turn our complaints into praise.
It seems to me, Moses needed this rallying cry. The people were uncomfortable. They were sick of the same food every day, EVEN THOUGH it was miraculously provided for them. They longed for the normal life they remembered in Egypt (even if it was a life of slavery). Their complaints were many. They complained to each other and to Moses and it angered the Lord. As a result, he punished them more than once.
Even after they were punished for complaining, they complained more. This constant, never ending complaining drove Moses to complain to God. They all needed an attitude check, including Moses!
Here is the interesting thing. God heard them, and while angry and frustrated with the Israelites, he had patience with Moses. But there was a difference between the complaints of the people and the complaints of Moses. The people complained to each other, Moses complained straight to God. The people spread their discontentment through their community, while Moses went straight to God.
How often do we find ourselves doing just as the Israelites did instead of going to God? After all, He has all the answers and is the ultimate spiritual attitude checker. He is often the only one who can change the things we are complaining about. And more importantly, He has the power to change our attitudes in a second if we make ourselves available to Him.
When I think about this, I am reminded of three verses. The first is posted on the wall in our dining room. Philippians 2:14, “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”
The second verse that comes to mind is 2 Corinthians 10:5b “and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
The third verse is in Psalm 139:2-4 “2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”
You see, God knows our hearts. He knows what circumstances we struggle with and even the thoughts we have, whether they are verbalized or not. He also sees and knows when we choose to “take those thoughts captive that are not obedient to Christ”. And when we do that He is pleased.
If you are struggling with something in your life today don’t complain to others about it. Take those thoughts captive and lay them at the feet of your loving, understanding, heavenly Father. He already knows you have them. Just be honest with Him and take comfort in knowing you don’t have to pretend they’re not there. Just deal with them properly and take them to the One who can deal with the issues. Take them to Him to find wisdom or comfort or maybe just an attitude check. He is faithful and understanding and is waiting for you to take this opportunity to come to Him.
Father, thank you that you are patient with me. Thank you that you understand my faulty attitude. Thank you that you can change it if need be. Thank you that I can have a relationship with you and that I can come to you with my struggles. Help me, Lord, to take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to you. In Jesus name, Amen.