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Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: "Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!" (Num. 11:4-6)
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It's amazing how a change of scenery can affect our perspective on things.
A few years earlier, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, where they "groaned because of the bondage," and cried out to God for deliverance (Ex. 1:23). God sent Moses to deliver them with a powerful arm, and now they were a free people on their way to the Promised Land, feasting on manna from heaven. But they grew tired of the same old menu every day, and longed for the varied diet they once enjoyed in their former life. They forgot the brutality and oppression, but remembered the free fish. If only they could be back in Egypt again!
We laugh at the Israelites for their myopic vision--but are we any better? We enjoy a standard of living that is the envy of the world. We shop at stores that are stuffed with all manner of food and consumer products. Our healthcare is second-to-none. We live in spacious, air conditioned homes, furnished with a plethora of amenities, including large flat screen TVs that keep us entertained. We carry little devices in our pockets that keep us connected to the rest of the planet--literally. Compared to the rest of the world, we are rich, comfortable, healthy, and safe.
Yet we complain incessantly. We grumble about the weather, politics, taxes, customer service at the DMV, and rude drivers who cut us off as we're cruising in our SUVs. Our calendars are jammed with activities that leave us frazzled and tired. We are easily frustrated, and have no reservations about expressing our frustrations.
We pine for a return to a more idyllic existence where the fish was free and life was more serene. But such a life never existed. We have forgotten the hardships of our earlier years--not to mention the struggles our ancestors had to endure just to survive. Neither do we appreciate the bounty that surrounds us in our current circumstances. Our fixation on the negative robs us of the ability to enjoy the gifts that are right in front of us.
The Israelites paid dearly for their distorted perspective. They never reached their Promised Land, nor did they return to the fantasy life in Egypt they remembered. They lived out the rest of their days eating the manna they so despised.
Instead of demanding, "Who will give us meat to eat?!" we should be thanking God for the abundance He has already given us.