Do you know someone who just complains about everything? Nothing is ever good enough. Maybe you are that person. I am definitely that person, or at least I feel that way sometimes, but I do try not to be. When I get to feeling sorry for myself, I try to count my blessings: I have a roof over my head. I have food to eat. I have family to lean on. Right now, the roof over my head is the best one I’ve ever had. My refrigerator is stocked so full, it’s hard to shut the door, and I am quarantined with the most patient, kind and (somewhat) quiet husband I’ve ever had. Even though I get frustrated sometimes, I try to think about others who don’t have it so great. When the lockdown first began, the first thing I said to my husband was, “I bet domestic violence reports will skyrocket during this time.” I thought of the 2002 ice storm in Oklahoma, when my son was 9, and I was pregnant with my daughter. We lived out in the country, and we were trapped in a house with no electricity for three days – and my daughter’s dad. It wasn’t pretty. I wanted to leave so badly, but my car battery was dead for one, and we couldn’t even get out of our driveway for another. The entire world around us was one solid sheet of ice. We were stuck in every way. One thing that got me through was thinking about how much worse it could be. We had food, and we had heat. Others weren’t so lucky. Many homes relied on electricity for heat and to cook. We had gas for both. I don’t mean to sound like I triumphed or anything. I’m just as guilty of grumbling as the Israelites. As humans, we forget quickly about the good things, especially during times when everything around us isn’t coming up roses. I read once (don’t ask me where) that people just naturally migrate to the negative. For instance, we could have 10 wonderful things and just one horrible thing (like a huge ice storm or global virus) happen to us, and instead of focusing on those 10 wonderful things, we will fixate on that one horrible thing, almost completely blocking out those 10 blessings. We read these chapters about the Israelites and think, “How on earth can they be so selfish and stubborn??? Don’t they remember the things they have seen?” But we are just like them in so many ways, and God bails us out time and time again. He never gives up on pursuing us, convincing us we are blessed and building our faith in His love for us.
One other thing from this chapter that I have to mention is the establishment of the Sabbath. In verse 29, the Lord tells Moses that the people must realize that the Sabbath is a gift. A gift. The Lord gave us a day off as a gift! In this time of quarantine, we’ve heard miraculous stories about ocean waters clearing from reduced pollution and air quality improving in metropolitan areas. We can see it with our own eyes in Bangkok. The earth is getting to rest and recuperate from centuries of use (and abuse) from us humans. I can’t help but wonder: if we had continued to cherish God’s gift of resting on the Sabbath, would the earth be a healthier place? Growing up, most everything was closed on Sundays in Cherokee, Oklahoma, and after church, I would go home and not do much of anything at all, along with everyone else in our house. Now, especially in Bangkok but even in my little hometown, Sunday, for many businesses, is just business as usual. I remember when United grocery store in Cherokee started opening from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sundays. It was the talk of the town, and everyone was so excited to not have to worry about stocking up on milk and bread and basic supplies on Saturday to get them through to Monday morning. These are kind of silly examples, but they show the trickle-down effect of neglecting what we consider not-so-important things. Those little things – like days off – are gifts, not just for us but also for the lands on which we are blessed to live.
Writing prompt: gift
The Israelites had so much for which to be thankful. They weren’t slaves anymore. They had water, food, transportation and shelter. Yet, every day they seemed to find something to complain about. It’s easy for us to point out the Israelites’ shortcomings and ungratefulness, but it’s tough to admit our own! Forget your complaints and grumbles today, and write about your gifts. You can sing the song “Count your blessings one by one ….” like I’m doing right now, if you want.