Monday, March 10, 2014

The Worship Of Food

another head pic

“Why can’t we just be normal kids, like everybody else?”

“What do you mean, I asked?”

“Well, all the other kids drink pop and eat whatever they want, but we can’t. I feel so awkward like everybody thinks we’re the weird kids who can’t eat pizza and drink pop or have any sugar.”

“Exactly what do you mean by “all the other kids,” I queried?”

“Well, you know….everywhere we go the kids eat everything like chips, pop, donuts, cookies, cakes, candies, bread, sandwiches and they don’t think anything of it. It’s not a big deal to them. It’s just normal life, but we are so limited and it’s not fair and they don’t understand why we won’t eat it. I mean, they’re just trying to be nice to us and we have to say no.”

I understand my children’s frustration and I validated the complaints. It is hard to stand apart. It is difficult to be different and it’s especially challenging when you are young and can’t see the value in it, or fully understand the “why” behind it.

As a mom, I find it difficult to see my kids struggle like this and yet I understand that life is full of struggles and if we face them and press into them, viewing them as opportunities for growth, those struggles can also be a character building gift.  It’s hard to know exactly what to say to our kids when they hurt and don’t understand the tough things in life. I’m certainly not the mom with all the perfect answers like Ma on Little House on the Prairie. I don’t have a pre-planned script prepared for the challenges life brings, but I do have the Bible and it is full of wisdom and guidance to help us navigate the rough waters in life.

Carolyn Ingalls

If the truth is told, I really relate more to this mom:

retro_house_wife_magnet-p1470844867587765868gm5_500

This morning I woke up to a quiet house. All the kids were still sleeping (a rare occurrence) and I decided to let them sleep. As a result I had about an hour of quite time to meet with God alone and uninterrupted. It was an amazing, sweet hour and the rich nuggets of gold I came away with are priceless. I wasn’t even thinking about the above conversation when I sat down to read. I was simply following my chronological Bible study plan, but God knew I needed wisdom far beyond my own and He supplied it.

Bible, Candle

When the kids got up, we gathered around the breakfast table for some delicious gluten free, egg free pancakes with mixed berries (see, we really are weird, ha!) and I shared with them, what I read this morning.

I’m currently in the book of Numbers and today the chapter that stood out to me the most, is chapter eleven. Beginning in verse one, it says: “And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.”

Wow! That seems a little harsh, doesn’t it? Do you know what they were complaining about?  Food. There were a few people that the Bible refers to as “the rabble” dispersed throughout the group and they were unhappy. They had a craving for something other than manna and forgot that it was God who supplied that manna miraculously every single day for them.  They didn’t have to go out and hunt it down, or butcher it or work the soil or trim trees or any other form of hard work in order to get it. All they had to do was gather it and prepare it.

In verses 7-11, The Biblical description of manna sounds pleasing to the eye and delicious in flavor. It says: “Now the manna was like coriander seed, and its appearance like that of bdellium. The people went about and gathered it and ground it in hand mills or beat it in mortars and boiled it in pots and made cakes of it. And the taste of it was like the taste of cakes baked with oil. When the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell with it.”

Matthew Henry’s commentary says this: “While they lived on manna, they seemed to be exempt from the curse which sin has brought on man that in the sweat of his face shall he eat bread. And yet they speak of manna with such scorn, as if it were not good enough to be meat for swine.”

Proverbs 23: 1-3 says: “When you sit down to eat with a ruler,
observe carefully what[a] is before you,
and put a knife to your throat
if you are given to appetite.
Do not desire his delicacies,
for they are deceptive food.”

This reminds me of all the pop, cakes, candies, cookies, rich breads etc. in our society today. There is absolutely no nutritional value in any of it, but it is highly addictive. It’s deceptive because it looks like it will taste amazing and often it does, but it also destroys our bodies when consumed on a regular basis.

Matthew Henry also goes on to say this: “The children of Israel, a people near to God and highly privileged, yet drawn into rebellion against him.”

The people complained out of lust for other food. Instead of seeing the delicious, amazing food that was packed full of everything they needed nutritionally and that God faithfully provided for them as a blessing, they lusted after what they couldn’t have and became angry at God for not providing it.

They even went on to complain that they were better off in Egypt! “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.” Numbers 11:4-6

This complaint is extremely offensive because they did not give God the credit for delivering them out of slavery. They forgot the brick and mortar and the back breaking work they were forced to do in Egypt and they forgot the beatings they took and the oppression they lived under day after day in order to even get a little bit of food. They acted as though they had an abundance of fancy treats for free. They behaved as though they had left “Easy Street” for a rough desert experience with no blessings and inadequate provision. They had their teeth set for meat and they were angry because they didn’t get their way.

Philippians 2:1-18 has this to say: So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

It seems God takes complaining very seriously. His own Son, being in very nature, God, humbled himself to death for US. He was beaten, scorned, tortured and hated by the very people He created….and guess what?  He didn’t utter one single complaint. He went through all of that for us without complaining. And what do we do? We complain and complain and complain about the very provision He gives us to take care of us.

Psalm 78:17-31 says:

“Yet they sinned still more against him,
rebelling against the Most High in the desert.
18 They tested God in their heart
by demanding the food they craved.
19 They spoke against God, saying,
“Can God spread a table in the wilderness?
20 He struck the rock so that water gushed out
and streams overflowed.
Can he also give bread
or provide meat for his people?”

21 Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath;
a fire was kindled against Jacob;
his anger rose against Israel,
22 because they did not believe in God
and did not trust his saving power.
23 Yet he commanded the skies above
and opened the doors of heaven,
24 and he rained down on them manna to eat
and gave them the grain of heaven.
25 Man ate of the bread of the angels;
he sent them food in abundance.
26 He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
and by his power he led out the south wind;
27 he rained meat on them like dust,
winged birds like the sand of the seas;
28 he let them fall in the midst of their camp,
all around their dwellings.
29 And they ate and were well filled,
for he gave them what they craved.
30 But before they had satisfied their craving,
while the food was still in their mouths,
31 the anger of God rose against them,
and he killed the strongest of them
and laid low the young men of Israel.”

Manna is referred to here in verse 25 as “the bread of angels.”  They rejected the bread of angels. It wasn’t good enough for them. They wanted meat.

In Numbers 11:19-21, God says this to the Israelites: “You shall not eat meat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have rejected the Lord who is among you and have wept before him, saying, “Why did we come out of Egypt?”

God makes good on his promise in verses 31-35: “Then a wind from the Lord sprang up, and it brought quail from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day's journey on this side and a day's journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits[a] above the ground. 32 And the people rose all that day and all night and all the next day, and gathered the quail. Those who gathered least gathered ten homers.[b] And they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 33 While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck down the people with a very great plague. 34 Therefore the name of that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah,[c] because there they buried the people who had the craving. 35 From Kibroth-hattaavah the people journeyed to Hazeroth, and they remained at Hazeroth.”

Did you catch that?  Once again God showed his miraculous power and ability to provide, but this time it was for the purpose of punishment. The instigators of this great sin were struck down while eating what they craved. “While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed.”

God takes the sin of complaining seriously and we should too.  We spread poison when we complain and it is offensive to God.

If you think about it, when you give something freely to someone as a gift and they complain that they don’t like it, how do you feel about that? Do you feel hurt or offended?  We are made in the image of God and this is why that kind of ungrateful behavior offends us too.  It hurts to be rejected and especially when the gift you gave was for their own benefit.

Sometimes we don’t realize we have been given a gift because our eyes aren’t yet open to the value of it.  Some of our younger kids don’t realize that the healthy lifestyle we are providing them with will benefit them long term. They can only see “now” and think about satisfying their desire to be accepted by their peers right now. They can only see the desire to satisfy their craving for those foods right now. They don’t yet comprehend the long term effects of eating an unhealthy diet on a regular basis.  They don’t understand how much damage those foods would do to their bodies even if they weren’t allergic to them, let alone the extreme damage that happens when things they are allergic to hit their system.

We had a really good discussion around the table this morning regarding this subject. I found myself very humbled by their response to what I shared. They are wonderful kids. Really they are. We aren’t perfect parents. In fact I have set the example for complaining many times and I had to admit to that and ask their forgiveness. That’s the beautiful thing about kids….they really are very forgiving and they asked forgiveness too.  We all agree that we are not lacking in anything. Even though we can’t have gluten, processed foods, processed sugar, eggs and soy, that’s not that difficult. We enjoy so many delicious foods that provide the nutrition God designed our bodies to need in order to function at full capacity. Those foods are beautiful and delicious, just like the manna was.

Kids, Bible

Our job, we all agree, is to be thankful. We know we will stumble and struggle at times, but at least we are all aware of the blessings we have and the ugliness of complaining. We really have nothing to complain about, but we do have a lot to be thankful for and we have each other for support, accountability and encouragement.

2 comments :

  1. This is a great post, with lots of biblical research--thanks, Jana! We have been working on not complaining around here, too, about food or anything else. It's really hard to hold our tongues sometimes, but the more we put it into practice, and the more we look for the blessings, the more we're keeping those complaining tongues under control. God is so good! :)

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  2. Thank you, Laurel, for sharing your thoughts. Yes, it is somehow such a knee jerk reaction to complain when we get the least bit uncomfortable, isn't it? We decided we needed to pray together and ask God to help us take every thought captive and then help each other by asking "are you complaining?" when we hear it from one another. It really has been a great way to help us be more aware of what we are saying and our attitudes. :) I think you nailed it.....by giving up the right to complain, we need to adopt the attitude of thanksgiving along with that and look for things to be thankful for when we are tempted to complain. :)

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