Did you ever hear the joke about the woman who was at the beach with her son and a giant sea monster swallowed him up? She called out to God and begged God to save her son, and God heard her. The sea monster immediately reappeared and spit the boy onto the beach. The mother, seeing her dazed son struggling to stand after his ordeal, looked back to heaven and complained, “He had a hat.”
Last Sunday we heard the story of the Hebrew people complaining bitterly to Moses about their thirst. With all God has done for them, from leading them out of Egypt, to parting the Red Sea, to defeating the Pharaoh’s army, they are still angry. They don’t remember their suffering as slaves in Egypt, knowing only their thirst in the wilderness.
Water is essential for life, and the Hebrew people rightly feared for their lives, and God provides them with water. Nonetheless, the point of the story seems to have as much to do with their complaining as with their thirst.
Just as water is essential for life, gratitude is essential for the life of our souls. Moses struck the rock at God’s command and water flowed out in an amazing and life saving miracle. The people’s thirst was sated, and they must have been impressed, but we don’t hear them thanking God. Moses drives the point home by naming the place with the Hebrew words for “test” and “quarrel.”
The people forgot what God had already done for them and their hearts became bitter, resentful and complaining. When we forget what God has done for us our hearts become small and demanding. We not only forget that we have been blessed, we fail to experience that blessing, turning instead to our fears, anxiety and sense of lack.
Gratitude, on the other hand, opens our hearts and fills them with love. Gratitude connects us to God and the experience of God’s abundance. When we give thanks to God by giving of our first fruits, we experience abundance and blessing. When we show our gratitude in worship, loving God and loving one another, we experience more love and blessing ourselves.
Yours in Christ,