Whether reading the Psalm from the Daily Office or Sunday’s Old Testament lesson, the appointed Scriptures invite us to consider the plight of the wandering Hebrews. Perhaps plight is too strong a word, after all, God had rescued them from slavery in Egypt, God had saved them from Pharaoh’s army at the bank of the Red Sea, and God had provided them with water from a rock and manna from heaven. And yet…
And yet, they complained. They grumbled. They gathered as a rabble to grouse about the fact that God had not given them enough, or, barring that, that God had not given them what they wanted. They subscribed to a theology of scarcity, while God was pouring out abundance in the form of daily bread.
Perhaps I chose the word “plight” because I know the situation in which the Hebrew people found themselves all too well. While I’m not often the member of a complaining mob, I have, on many an occasion, found myself getting stirred up by the rabble within my own mind. Scarcity is way too seductive in our modern day and age. We live in a world that is constantly convincing us to consume. $20 a month, for the rest of your life, will ensure that you always have the latest and greatest iPhone. That fancy 60″ HDTV you bought last year is fine, I guess, but this new 4K TV is way better (even if your eye can’t tell the difference). Subscribe to our internet service, it’s the fastest! Buy our razors, they’re the cheapest! Drink our beer, you’ll be the sexiest!
With a constant barrage of scarcity based advertising, it is no wonder that our minds are a nearly constant rabble in need of satisfaction. It is not wonder that we work way too much, play way too little, and charge way too much on credit cards. We’ve lost the ability to be satisfied with our daily bread. I know because I’m just as guilty. But what would life look like if we learned to be satisfied with what we have? How would our lives be different if we chose to be thankful rather than gluttonous? How might the world be more like the Kingdom of God if we subscribed to a theology of abundance and gave up the scarcity mindset?
Honestly, I’m not sure it is possible in this day and age, but I suspect we should be trying. Jesus came that we might have life, and have it abundantly, and as long as we refuse to see that abundance, we aren’t fully living into the dream that God has for us and for the kingdom. I pray that God might pour out the Spirit upon us, might open our eyes to see our overwhelming abundance, and might help us to repent of the scarcity that leads to grumbling rabble within and without.