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Nothing to complain about
February 15, 2010
by Rev. Eric Nelson, St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie

If things don’t go the way they should, we will moan and belly-ache. If we feel that we are the victim of some sort of injustice, we will complain. If we don’t like our situation, others will hear about it.

Complain and bellyache are what the Israelites did in the book of Numbers. The Israelites had just left Sinai and were on their way to the land promised to their forefathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. During this time, the rabble among them began to have a strong craving. They were no longer satisfied with the manna that was provided as they journeyed across the wilderness.

Apparently, this rabble gained quite a following, for the Israelites began to weep and wail. They remembered the fish they ate in Egypt that cost nothing, along with the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now, there was nothing but manna.

Who would have thought that the Israelites would have looked at centuries of oppressive and abusive labor with such longing and nostalgia? They may have cried out to the Lord because of their slavery, but at least they were crying out with full bellies!

Is it any wonder that God’s anger blazed hotly? Essentially, the Israelites were saying that it was better to be well-fed under the oppressive care of the Egyptians than to eat manna and be under the care of the Lord.

Instead of considering what they didn’t have and how good they had it during their oppressive years of bondage, the Israelites should have considered what they did have. What they had was far better than fish, cucumbers, and melons. They had the living God.

Better yet, the living God had them as his people. He was with them. That is why they were able to escape from their bondage. That is why they could survive as they journeyed through the wilderness. That is why the nations feared them.

This same God wants to be your God, as well. Yet, what happens when life does not go along as it should? What happens when a job is lost, when the work at school become overwhelming? What happens when our health takes a turn for the worse?

Do we have faith and confidence in God? Or, like the Israelites, do we wail and complain because we feel we are on the receiving end of a raw deal?

Much can go wrong in our lives, and it often does. When life does not go along as we would like, the normal reaction is to complain. Why us? How unfair! But just what exactly do we deserve?

That is not a question that leads to a pleasant answer. Scripture says that the wages of sin is death – and we have loads of sins.

Instead of giving us what we deserve, however, God gives us forgiveness. Our sins are wiped away.

Our Lord was falsely accused, beaten, mocked, and put to death on a cross. Despite his innocence, he was crucified between two criminals. But he did not moan about the injustice – he made no complaint. And, because of His innocent blood that was shed on the cross, forgiveness can be proclaimed to you, and you can be certain how you stand before God. You are now pure and righteous. As a result, God will not give you what you deserve.

What do we have to complain about? We deserve much worse. We deserve condemnation and death. But a cross and an empty tomb keep us clear of such a fate.

You have a God who is for you. His grace and love go with you. That is the kind of God you have in Christ Jesus.