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Whining

by | Sep 22, 2021 | Lamenting, Trials

“Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, ‘Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.’ … Moses heard the people weeping throughout their clans, everyone at the door of his tent. And the anger of the LORD blazed hotly, and Moses was displeased. Moses said to the LORD, ‘Why have You dealt ill with Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You lay the burden of all this people on me? Did I conceive all this people? Did I give them birth, that You should say to me, “Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing child,” to the land that You swore to give their fathers? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me and say, “Give us meat, that we may eat.” I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me. If You will treat me like this, kill me at once, if I find favor in Your sight, that I may not see my wretchedness.’ Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel …’ So Moses went out and told the people the words of the LORD.” (Numbers 11:4-6, 10-16, 24 ESV)

I hate the sound of people whining. “But whyyy ….” they whine. “Do we have to?” they snivel. “It’s not fair!” they moan. I want to lock myself in the bathroom where nobody can whine at me, and I can have some peace.

That doesn’t mean I don’t ever whine myself. I wish it did!

In this story, the problem starts with a group of tagalongs who had come with the people of Israel out of Egypt, only to regret it when life got hard. And the whining spread quickly to the Israelites themselves—over food, of all things, the very miracle of manna God provided for them! And finally Moses catches it, and whines to God. “I’m not their mother. These are Your people, not mine. If I have to keep dealing with this, just kill me now.”

But Moses does one thing right, one thing that the people had not been doing—he whines to God, instead of rejecting Him. He takes this incredibly annoying need to the Lord, and asks Him to deal with it. Maybe Moses could have been a bit less whiny about the way he worded it, but still ….

And God does deal with it. He deals with Moses’ problem first, by appointing seventy elders to help him cope with the demands of the people. Moses is overworked—very well, the Lord’s going to give him relief. And it worked! You can just hear the relief in Moses’ words at the end of this episode: “Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit on them!” Because if God did that, Moses could retire forever and go fishing!

There are times when we, too, feel like whining. All right, it’s not dignified, but if we’re going to whine, let’s not do it like the people who rejected the Lord and His gifts—let’s do it like Moses. Let’s take our needs to the Lord our Savior, knowing that He loves us enough to help us, and even to put up with us when we’re being annoying. After all, the same God who willingly became human, suffered and died for us, and rose again—He will not desert us now. He will hear us and have mercy.

Prayer: Lord, I’m sorry when I whine. Please help me, because You are merciful. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Reprinted from Lutheran Hour Ministries with author’s permission

Reflection Questions:
1. Tell about an episode of whining that has stuck in your memory.
2. What makes you want to whine?
3. When has God heard your whining and still had mercy on you?

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