October 2014

Harvest Grumbles

Being thankful is at the very centre of our Harvest Celebration. We give, both financially and with tinned and dry goods to others as a share of the bounty we have received. God has blessed us. And it is good to remember it well.

One of the biblical images that is frequently referred to at this time of year, is the celebration of the people of Israel, giving thanks for their harvest, coming from a background of slavery in Egypt. They thanked God for the harvest knowing they had been slaves and the harvest had not been theirs. But when I look at the story in the book of Exodus, one of the things that stand out to me isn’t the thanksgiving, praise and celebration. It is the amount of time the people of Israel weren’t satisfied.

It has been a hard slog down in Egypt, but since God had delivered them from slavery words like murmur, complain, grumble, and whine captures the essence of the Israelites attitude about their new free life. They whinged about the food and water and the direction they were going. They whined about feeling lost and thought God had abandoned them. They complained that their enemies would get them. They grumbled about the Government (ie Moses). They argued among themselves and wondered if it was best to turn their backs on freedom and go back to slavery.

When you hear about the Israelites and their constant grumbling in spite of all God had done for them, what are your thoughts? Should they have been more grateful? Faithful? More trusting in God’s ability to provide?

But looking at myself I find myself relating to this ongoing attitude of ‘woe is me’.

Grumble, grumble, grumble. There are times that all we do is grumble. We complain about not having enough money or having too much hardship. We worry about the state of the world. "Somebody should do something," we say. "Why is life so hard?" we wonder.

Some of us say "Remember the good old days, when we didn't have to worry about sexual predators on the Internet, or high prices of petrol?" "What is the world coming too?"

Like the Israelites, we grumble more then we praise. We look at our perceived needs, more then we count our blessings. We choose to focus on our fears and end up not recognizing the provisions of God. The Israelites were reminded that God is present and listening to their moans, groans, and complaints. Instead of grumbling wouldn’t it be better to seek evidence of God's presence and ask: "What is it? What has God provided me/us today?"

When we turn our focus towards the blessings we have received from God and away from our grumbling tendencies it is then that we will fully discover His love and faithfulness is available no matter in what circumstances of life we find ourselves.

Turning from a life of grumbling to an attitude of thankfulness is the step God wants us all to take. Then it wouldn’t astonish me that the harvest celebration turns from giving a few cans of baked beans and a £10 Harvest Offering to true gratitude.

In the words of the Harvest hymn:
All good gifts around us
are sent from heaven above;
then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord,
for all his love.


October 2014