Numbers 11: 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
There is one concept in professional sports that I have a really tough time understanding – salary renegotiation. I’ve seen it numerous times. A player is excited to get a 5-year, $5 million contract, but year 2 he has an incredible season and his stats are similar to those making 5 times more. What does he do? He refuses to play, of course, until his contract is renegotiated. What I haven’t seen is an athlete asking to renegotiate their contract to a lower wage when their performance is no where near expectations.
I once read a sports article “The NFL is worried more players are going to hold out for bigger contracts” where the author was lamenting a growing trend of NFL football players who were demanding raises when their percentage of the team payroll total has dipped. For instance, if a player is making $7million per year under a $143 million salary cap (the max. a team can spend), and the salary cap increases to $150 million, these players are demanding to renegotiate their contracts to go back to the percentage they had earned before. Surely there was a time where $7 million a year playing the sport they loved, would have been a dream. Many players come from families where it is difficult to even pay for the basic necessities, often where parents or even single moms are working multiple jobs just to help their child achieve their dreams. But fast forward a few years and that is long forgotten, and appreciation is replaced with grumbling.
That is the story of the Israelites told in Exodus and Numbers, as we follow the life of Moses who is called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. The Israelites were slaves to the Egyptians and were treated abominably. “The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of slavery went up to God.” (Exod. 2: 23b). However, after they were miraculously saved from the Egyptian army, by crossing through a dry Red Sea (Exodus 15), they quickly grumbled. If you look carefully at Exodus 15 and 16 you will see that the grumbling in today’s scripture came only weeks after God’s miraculous provision. “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Numbers 11: 5-6). Are you kidding me? You were being beaten, you were being expected to produce more with less resources; you were not free! Yet that was forgotten – now they were sick and tired of the manna.
Before we come down too harshly on the Israelites, how often do we do the same? I recall a season where I could not sell anything in business, but then came a season of plenty where customers were calling all the time. “Oh, this is crazy. How am I supposed to get all this work done?” I needed an attitude adjustment. I had quickly forgotten where I had been and what God had now provided. I was unappreciative and spoiled. How about you? Have you grown unappreciative of what God has given you? Have you become a grumbler? Repent quickly. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4: 11-13).