As Christians we should naturally have an attitude of thankfulness, but sometimes we are just the opposite. Look at the following scripture text, Numbers 11:4-6 and you will find a group of happy, thankful people.Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!
Don't these people sound happy? Are they not a happy group? No, these people are just the opposite. They are complaining miserably. They are crying,who is going to give us to eat? These people had just left Mount Sinai after receiving God's travel instructions through Moses. God had been very good to them. Every morning the Israelites were able to draw back their tent doors and witness a miracle of white round flakes of manna covering the ground. It was food from heaven! But now God's goodness and mercy was not enough for them.
Why had these people become so disatisfied? It was because their attention shifted from what God had given them to what they didn't have. They were no longer noticing what God was doing for them. They were not seeing that God was setting them free. They were not seeing that God was making them a nation and giving them a new land. They were no longer noticing these things because they were so wrapped up in what God wasn't doing for them. They could only think of the delicious Egyptian food they had left behind. They were beginning to feel that God wasn't doing enough for them and felt they had the right to ask for more. They began to demand meat and stopped trusting God to care for them, who is going to give us to eat? Somehow they had forgotten the cost of the food they had left behind, that it was at the expense of the brutal whip of Egyptian slavery.
These people were becoming terrible. Before we think about how awful these people had become and judge them, we may want to think about what occupies our attention most of the time. Are we grateful to God for what he has given us, or are we always thinking about what we would like to have? We should not allow our unfulfilled desires to cause us to forget God's gifts of life; food, health, family, friends, work.
How do we change our attitude of disappointment and unthankfulness to an attitude of being thankful and happy? Do we become thankful just because we get the things from God that we ask for? When we ask God for something, He might grant our request, but if we approach Him with a sinful attitude, getting what we want may prove to be costly. When we have become so unthankful God might put us through an experience more costly than we want, to bring us back into a state of thankfulness. The Israelites got the meat they demanded, but they paid dearly for it later when a plague struck their camp.
Isn't it odd how it works? The more God gives us the more unsatisfied and disappointed we become. Zaccheus is a man of the New Testament that we can relate to this type of situation. Zaccheus could buy about anything he wanted, but the way he got his money made him so unpopular that no one would have anything to do with him. Zaccheus could afford to have his clothes all tailor made, but his lack of height made him feel inconsequential and insecure. His business of collecting taxes forced him into the public eye, but the fact that everyone knew that the way he made so much money was by over taxing the people made it uncomfortable for him to move around town. Zaccheus was a man for who everything he had ( his career, his possessions, his status in the government) brought him no satisfaction.
If Zaccheus was at peace and satisfied with himself because of his career, possessions, and status, why would he go to such lengths to see Jesus? Idle curiousity would not account for a grown man to act like a little kid, climbing a tree and clinging desparately to a branch. Here was a man who recognized that life was not all that it could be, and that the answer to his disatisfaction was to be found in something other than his possessions. Zaccheus was a man who had to find out if Jesus was the answer. Sometimes we are like Zaccheus and have to go through the fire of searching out happiness by gathering all the world has to offer us, and then finding out that true happiness is not there. Zaccheus, like many today, cannot be thankful for what they have, because they are so dissatisfied and unhappy.
Thank God, Zaccheus did find peace and happiness in his life when he found Jesus. He found happiness when he looked beyond himself and the things of the world.
Zaccheus not only gives us a lesson in how to find happiness, but he also teaches us how to say thank you. Zaccheus knew that his gratitude to Jesus would not be expressed simply by saying how grateful he was that he had all of the things he had. His gratitude would best be expressed by using those things he had to help others. Zaccheus didn't promise to give back what he had taken and to give the other half of everything he owned to the poor in order to get Jesus to like him or to approve of him. Zaccheus did it because of what Jesus had already done for him by just coming into his life. This is the best way to say thank you Lord for what you have given me, to give up some of the good things that you have.
We need to ask ourselves, do we have an attitude of thankfulness or do we have an attitude of dissatisfaction and unhappiness? If we are unhappy is it because we have stopped noticing what God has given us?
Remember, if you are not satisfied and demand more, God may give it to you but it may come with a price higher than you want to pay. But if you are happy and have peace and want to thank God, think of what you can give up that will help others or will help the Church.
Let us always remember to be thankful for what God has given us, that we don't demand more from Him and have to pay the cost.