Complaining or an Attitude of Gratitude?

Numbers 20:5, It [the wilderness] is not a place of seed and fig and grape and pomegranates; and there is no water to drink. This was the complaint of the people against YHVH. In Hebraic thought, water, the fig tree, wine from the grape, as well as oil, milk and honey (the two symbols of the Promised Land) are all metaphors for Torah (see Everyman’s Talmud, pp. 133–134). The Israelites were seeking physical food, but were missing the spiritual food (i.e. Torah, faith in his Word and promises) that YHVH was abundantly providing them during their wilderness walk. Additionally, the Hebrew word for wilderness is b’midbar (the Hebrew name for the book of Numbers), which means “in the wilderness, desert, uninhabited land or pasture.” The root word of midbar is the word dabar meaning “to speak, declare, command, promise or commune.” In a number of instances in the Scriptures, the terms word/dabar of God/Elohim or word /dabar of the LORD/YHVH is used to denote words coming directly from the mouth of YHVH. In the tabernacle (Heb. mishkan), the most set-apart place was called the d’veer (a cognate of the word debar) or oracle. It was there that Moses went to receive the word (d’bar) of YHVH. There he also met the Word of Elohim who later on became Yeshua the Messiah, the incarnated Word of Elohim (John 1:1, 14).

What is the point of this brief word study? While going through the wilderness of life, if we have an attitude of gratitude instead of one of complaining, murmuring, doubt, fear and unbelief in the Word and promises of YHVH, will we not be more likely to understand YHVH’s purposes, instructions, (i.e. Torah), his heart and his plans for our lives? If we have such an attitude, will our hearts not be more inclined to hear YHVH’s voice more clearly and understand his will for our lives thereby receiving hope for the future and strengthened faith? One can waste one’s energy on murmuring and never grow up spiritually, or one can determine to hear YHVH and to commune with him in the wilderness of life and seek spiritual enrichment out of that wilderness and view it as our training ground for entering the Promised Land. 

Let’s make a conscious effort to redirect our thoughts and attitude positively, while never forgetting the bitter lessons of our Israelite forefathers (1 Cor 10:11)? Murmuring produced nothing except death in the wilderness. If we have a grateful heart attitude, we will not only have a happier time in the wilderness of life, but we will be more likely to hear YHVH’s voice and understand the meaning and purpose of the experiences we have while en route to the Promised Land of our ultimate spiritual inheritance.



5 thoughts on “Complaining or an Attitude of Gratitude?

  1. An attitude of gratitude is the definition of a great attitude! Also I heard Lodebar means a place of no communication…God forbid for if we don”t commune with Him where does that leave us? I think we all know the answer to that.

  2. Just this morning I told God that He is slow in fulfilling His promises to me. I’ve apologized to Him just now after reading your message on complaining. It reminds of some truths I know but forget when hit by life’s challenges. The wilderness experience is a school of the Holy Spirit to teach His fruit. By greatest weakness is impatience; I’m learning to wait on God for His time.

  3. I agree with the thought that we ought to have an attitude of gratitude, of course and I wouldn’t take exception to anything you’ve said here. An attitude connotes a prevailing tendency to think and maybe even feel a certain way. However, certainly the scriptures encourage some manner of complaining, moaning, grieving, etc..

    I think there is much more to this subject that is to be explored to rightly understand how we are to think and respond to the countless variety of circumstances we face in life whereby we may be inclined to complain. Even the psalmists write of pouring out their complaints to Elohim and esteeming Him for listening to them.

    I think it may be that we are permitted and even encouraged to complain under certain circumstances and maybe not so much under others, i.e. injustices committed against us or others vs. consequences for our own acts of injustice, etc.. Maybe more importantly, however, are the questions of to whom and why we are complaining. Are we complaining to someone about someone else and why? Are we complaining to Elohim or another helper? What is our motive? Is it to try to change Elohim’s mind for the wrong reasons? Is it to seek Him to understand His ways? Is it to call upon Him for help that we may overcome difficult situations? Or what?

    By all means, even in our righteous complaining, groaning and moaning, and grieving, we ought to still remember things for which we are to be grateful. However, if we deny, minimize, or repress our grief, complaints, moanings and groanings, how are we to get help in dealing with them that we might be saved, delivered, healed, and overcome, that we might grow in righteousness?

    Maybe we ought to let our complaints be made known to Elohim WITH an attitude of gratitude.

    • Very well said, and I agree. Thank you for putting a finer point on the issue of complaining.

      Yes, the psalmist did a lot of “complaining” but he nearly almost always turned it into a praise to YHVH. The focus of his complaint didn’t terminate in a woe is me attitude. Rather, he found the blessing in his situation and kept the focus on the Creator. I think that this the key to finding the solution to whatever our problem may be.

      • Agreed. I have thought that the complaint of the psalmist was turned to praise BECAUSE when he cried out to the Lord, the Lord heard his cry, and He delivered him from all his troubles.

        We ought to have an attitude of gratitude when we cry out to the Lord in all our troubles, then He will hear our cries, meet our needs, and give us yet another opportunity to give Him thanks.

        An attitude of gratitude is both a prerequisite to righteous complaining and then it also becomes a result of it.

        He multiplies our gratitude when we give thanks for all the good deeds He has done even as we pour out our complaints to Him.

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