My mother used to always remind us "Be thankful for what you have!" whenever we would begin grousing about what we didn't have. I was reminded of this saying from the first reading of the day.
The Israelites are roaming around the desert working their way to the Promised Land. They are learning to be dependent on God. First they grumble about water, and now they are grumbling about food. They weren't hungry, but they weren't satisfied. They had full stomachs, but they craved greater variety and "better" food than what the manna provided.
Were the Israelites intentionally ungrateful, unsatisfied, unwilling to accept the gift they received for what it was and not what they wanted it to be? Probably not. They were just human, reacting on a sensory level instead of on a spiritual level. They were overly concerned with the immediate and did not have enough concern for the bigger picture. They were so blinded by the desire to have better food that they forgot the price they paid for the food was the loss of their freedom!
I know I have an attitude like the Israelites many times. I suspect many of us have had this attitude of not being thankful for what we have. I suppose most of us forget at times that all we have - our homes, and jobs, and families, and wealth, and health, and our very existence - are gifts from God. And so we complain, or desire, or crave, other "better" things. And yet, we have received from God all we need. That is one lesson from the wandering in the desert - God will provide all we need. We need to accept that truth - we need to be thankful for what we have. This is a priceless gift, and we should rejoice in its simple power and be conscious of our gratitude. Ignatius's prayer - the Suscipe - is a wonderful insight into the interconnectedness of gratitude and dependence.
Yet we so many times we are ungrateful. So today, my prayer is that I can be genuinely grateful for what I have, and not grumble about what I don't have, that I can give all back to God and take only what I need - the Creator's love and grace.