Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’” And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. And the Lord said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the Lord your God’” (Exodus 16:9-12 ESV).
The passage in Exodus is part of a series of sermons I am preaching called, “Journey of a Lifetime,” about the Israelites journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land. Our own journey of life can be filled with similar wilderness-like experiences as we read about in Exodus. One of those is the sin of murmuring. Murmuring or grumbling is at its core a sin of discontentment; a lack of faith that God will do what He has said that He will do. We don’t trust Him or we are dissatisfied with His provisions for us. Sometimes we think we deserve better. Or, we feel that we have been wronged and we should be justified here and now. In short, we grumble because we are not God and we want to be. Thus, in this case, at least, murmuring is idolatry. What is the cure? Smash the idol. Isolate it in your life. See it for what it is. Pinpoint its location in your life. Then, apply the Word of the Lord and destroy … with gratitude. The idol of murmuring cannot stand thanksgiving. It also hates cheerfulness.
Have you ever tried to be sad while eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? It is hard thing to do. Have you ever been angry at someone while you were praying for them on your daily prayer list? It is almost impossible. In a similar way, gratitude robs discontent (the fuel for murmuring) of its sinister power. It is impossible to murmur and express thanks at the same time.
So, why not today? Start to get wildly grateful. Go ahead. Start thanking God one by one for all of the blessings you have. Start with the tip of your head and go down to your toes. Or start with the sky, the sun, the moon, and go down to the grass. Go ahead. Get really rowdy! Thank Him aggressively! That idol will be broken into small pieces. It will melt down like the Wicked Witch of the East as Dorothy threw water upon her, and she shrunk to a final, evil little whimper, a black-cloth and broom-stick puddle of malevolence that could do no more harm.
Dr. Michael Milton, Transitional Pastor