Gems from Numbers 11: Everyone’s a critic.
The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining, “Why can’t we have meat? We ate fish in Egypt—and got it free!—to say nothing of the cucumbers and melons, the leeks and onions and garlic. But nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna.”
Those cukes were probably muskmelons. The melon was cantaloupe and watermelons. The leeks were any green grassy-type herb. Think chives, green onions, or even fresh hay. Onion and garlic are what we know them to be today. Want to try a recipe? Visit this site!
Variety. Spice. Flavor. This is what the Israelites were craving. This was the best of the Egyptian diet they used to eat. And it was free! (Like the manna wasn’t?)
I get cravings. Don’t you? I have a fond memory of gorging on Brazilian white chocolate while reading The Silver Chair. I crave that sweet and chalky flavor every time I hear the characters of that story referenced. I don’t think cravings are bad…until they become a critiquing demand.
When craving turns to criticism, it starts to tick people off. Relationships start to blow up. And you might just drown in quail.
The Israelites were believing lies. In times of craving it is easy to be deceived. In fact, we kinda want to be. Here are a few of the lies they wanted to believe.
Lie #1: Moses (and by extension God) would not give them meat. They were poor victims of God’s stinginess.
Let’s face it. Its easy to believe the worst about someone. Even God. Because the Israelites assumed God would not give them meat, they started to immediately complain. In doing so, they skipped the right way: the Righteous way. Asking.
I am familiar with this tactic of complaining to get what you want. My son is the expert. Here’s how he does it. “Mom, this cereal has too much sugar in it! You shouldn’t buy it so I don’t want it so bad.”
My response is usually silence. He then keeps complaining until I stop him with, “Henry, are you going to ask me a question?”
Then he remembers. “Mom, can I have some of this cereal?”
You see, Henry ASSUMES I won’t give him what he wants. He believes a lie. The truth is I love giving him good things. He is believing the worst about me when he starts in with complaints. And, it hurts and angers me.
The truth was that God never said he would not give them meat. They had not asked.
Lie #2: The fish was free in Egypt.
On the face of it, this is true. Anyone can go to the Nile and fish at no cost. But, what were they doing in Egypt in the first place? They paid for everything they ate in Egypt with their own lives and the lives of their children. They were slaves. Everything Egypt gave them carried a terrible price.
When I crave something, I begin to look for props; reasons to excuse my desire to indulge. The Israelites said, We are used to free fish! Of course, we have a craving for meat. A dieting woman might say: I deserve this chocolate. I had such a rough day. She ignores the truth that her bad day stemmed from all her “good” days of overeating. The danger is that she focuses on her excuse, and ignores the truth behind her reasoning.
But when I acknowledge the truth of my excuse, criticism might flip to gratitude. Or I can be like the Israelites and continue to exaggerate (or embellish) the truth until it begins to deceive.
Lie #3: Nothing tastes good out here; all we get is manna, manna, manna.
Eating the same thing over and over is boring. This is truth. But not the whole truth about manna. Hearing partial truths can deceive us. It also births a critic.
The truth was manna was delicious when they first tasted it. It kept them from certain starvation in the wilderness. It was EASY. It didn’t need to be grown, nurtured or harvested through hard labor. They went out their front door and picked it off the ground! It was free. It was abundant.
But instead of seeing the whole truth about manna, they critiqued the parts they didn’t like.
Ask. Be grateful.
Its basic manners that we teach tiny children. Say please. Say thank you.
In times of craving, ask! Especially when dealing with other people. Ask for what you want. Don’t hint around the issue. Don’t use passive-asking techniques like my son. Don’t assume the answer is no until you ask! Assuming the worst is a sure way to end a relationship.
And take a moment, in times of craving, to look around and see what you good you already have. Take your focus of your desired object long enough, and you may not want it anymore compared to what you might have to give up to get it.
Be honest. Are you starting to criticize everything around the situation, circumstance or people you think are keeping you from your deepest desire? If so, beware. You might end up drowning in it.
Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it.