So… that did NOT go well. We had TWO chances to preorder the special edition Halo Infinite Xbox Series X console, and we got SOOOO very close. We were online early for BOTH drops on Tuesday and Thursday, we were signed in with all of our account information to expedite the process, we even got the console into our cart and got through the payment screen… and it STILL didn’t happen. Over and over the website crashed as we attempted to get the ONLY version of the Series X console we have been waiting for… but it was to no avail. The bots out there purchasing every available next generation console up were just too strong, the demand from other consumers just like us was too prevalent, the bandwidth for the website was too weak to handle the traffic, and the supply from Microsoft was just too limited. After two lengthy attempts to secure this console, validating that we were NOT a robot about TWENTY times, and actually getting the system INTO our cart and clearing the payment process, we left the experience empty-handed, frustrated, disappointed, and even a bit bitter.
Here is the thing… we have not gotten EITHER of the next generation consoles for a few reasons (such as MONEY), but we were also holding out for THIS specific console. We are both HUGE Halo fans and this specific Halo Xbox Series X just checked all the boxes for us… amazing looking system, Halo themed, and we would finally have an Xbox Series X so we can start playing current games. After our swing and a miss on Tuesday’s release we were torn about trying again on Thursday because this one was even MORE expensive than the first one… but we decided we would go for it anyways. Not that it mattered… we still didn’t get it. And now we never will… this was an exceptionally limited release that will not occur again, and we missed our chance. We tried Master Chief… we really did. Someone else will have to finish this fight.
That feeling of snatching defeat from the jaws of certain victory… going from excitement and elation to crushing disappointment… we have ALL been there far more times than any of us care to think about. Such moments are inevitable in life, and in situations far more impactful than simply securing a shiny new video game console. We all have had prayers that have gone unanswered (or answered with a resounding NO), we have lost loved ones to battles, and we have watched our hopes and dreams turn into nightmares before our eyes. And when you love and serve the omnipotent Creator of the universe those losses are even harder to absorb, because we KNOW He can alter the outcome if He chooses to. Especially when we feel like we KNOW how our predicaments could be easily resolved… and we would HAPPILY explain our solution to the Lord if He would only listen to our ideas. How do we cope with these complicated feelings of disappointment when our belief in a loving Father is placed right next to the pain He is permitting us to endure? Unfortunately, just about every one of us have demonstrated the most common human reaction to disagreement with Lord’s decisions… complaining.
If we are being truly honest, we have found MANY ways to “re-label” complaining to make it sound better than what it actually is… we may call it “venting” (or even try to hyper-spiritualize complaining when we are feeling creative). But make no mistake… there is a massive difference between obediently submitting our prayer requests into the hands of our Provider and “complaining”. Let’s take a deeper look at this and see how the Lord views the subject… be forewarned, He has VERY strong feelings about this. We will jump into the story in Exodus 16, where the people of Israel had just been miraculously delivered from their years of slavery in Egypt and placed on the path to the Promised Land…
Exodus 16:1-3 And they journeyed from Elim, and all the congregation of the children of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they departed from the land of Egypt. Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, “Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”
A month and a half into their journey the people had already started to become dissatisfied with the process… and they started to look back at their old life of slavery and bondage with a bizarre fondness. Maybe it was Stockholm Syndrome? Well… either way the Lord heard their cry and answered…
Exodus 16:4-7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not. And it shall be on the sixth day that they shall prepare what they bring in, and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Then Moses and Aaron said to all the children of Israel, “At evening you shall know that the Lord has brought you out of the land of Egypt. And in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord; for He hears your complaints against the Lord. But what are we, that you complain against us?”
The Lord’s answer to their predicament? Yet another miracle… as a matter of fact, a DAILY miracle. He would provide food that they did not have to cook or prepare… they simply had to collect it and eat it. But if you know the story, you know what happens next…
Numbers 11:1-6 Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and when Moses prayed to the Lord, the fire was quenched. So he called the name of the place Taberah, because the fire of the Lord had burned among them. 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!”
Numbers 11:18-20 Then you shall say to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the Lord, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore the Lord will give you meat, and you shall eat. You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days, but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the Lord who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, “Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?” ’ ”
Numbers 14:26-29 And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you: The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above.
I mean, I like a nice flame-broiled Whopper as much as anyone, but given the circumstances this was probably NOT the time to complain about a lack of meat, fish, vegetables and seasonings. I mean, the people were ON THEIR WAY to the PROMISED LAND. I feel like I have already mentioned that, but it seems like THEY forgot. Instead of looking ahead to the promises that awaited them, they continued to look back in regret of what was now in the rear view mirror and no longer accessible to them. And the Lord had heard enough… He was going to answer their prayer. Oh BOY was He gonna answer it. But in the process of getting what they THOUGHT they needed, they lost their ticket to the Promised Land. They got their wilderness food fix… and endless BUFFET of it. But every single one of the adults who complained would spend the next forty years living and dying in this wilderness, never advancing to the fulfillment of all that the Lord had for them.
The Lord loved the people of Israel… He sent a deliverer (Moses) to secure their escape from bondage, He provided miracle after miracle to provide a path through the dangerous landscape that surrounded them while guiding them towards a destiny and a future that was beyond their hopes or dreams. But their constant impatience and incessant complaining completely derailed the plans that the Lord had for their lives. Like passengers on a plane heading for an exciting destination, they became obsessed with the limited in-flight selection of pretzels instead of focusing on all the provision that was awaiting them when they landed. In the eyes of the Lord complaining is not some innocent sin or harmless venting… it is the sign of an ungrateful heart, and it is an insult and an affront to the Almighty God who has never failed any of His children. He loves us and sent a Deliverer (Jesus) to secure our escape from the bondage of sin (John 3:16), and He has absolutely provided multiple miracles to protect and guide us along our way, even if the journey has been challenging and painful. He has a destiny and future beyond our comprehension prepared for us (1 Corinthians 2:9)… if we will just look forward with appreciation for what He WILL do instead of backwards with regret at what He DIDN’T.
Getting back to our Halo Infinite Xbox experience for a moment, I am obviously disappointed that we were unable to secure that Halo Infinite Xbox… I mean, we did everything right, and it still didn’t happen. I don’t know WHY we didn’t get it, and I probably never will. I don’t have a silver lining for this experience either… we simply missed out and can’t get it back. In the eternal scheme of things this is not going to matter much… but HOW we handle this disappointment as well as all the other much larger and more painful disappointments we face ABSOLUTLEY has present as well as eternal ramifications. God takes complaining VERY seriously… regardless of how we meant it, it is a statement of disrespect towards the omniscient God by His created beings. It implies we somehow see more and know better than He does… and we think we were either better off before, or perhaps could do better than Him if given the opportunity. It minimizes what He is doing FOR us and focusing on what we are doing WITHOUT. Job said it best when he lost his family, his possessions, and his wealth all in one day…
Job 1:20-22 Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.
Here is the truth… pretzel day is coming for all of us. We can complain about it, or we can embrace it as proof of His provision… even in the most challenging of circumstances. We can wish for the days of the past, or we can accept that none of these conditions (both the good AND the bad) are PERMANENT. We have received blessings and grace we didn’t have to work for and could NEVER earn… but that comes with letting go of what we thought we could achieve on our own. And if we are being truly honest… just like the people of Israel doing their best work in a state of bondage, we weren’t even getting to keep what we were working so hard for in the first place. So the next time life gives you pretzels with no water (or manna with no meat), DON’T make the mistake of grumbling, complaining, or even venting. This is the moment to thank the Lord for what He HAS done, what He is CONTINUING to do, and pray to Him for what He WILL do (Psalm 118:24). It’s hard… I know it is. I am tempted to complain about EVERY minor inconvenience as well as devastating setback. Should we reach out to the Lord in our pain? Absolutely. Can we talk to Him about every problem no matter how large or small? Of course. We should bring EVERY one of our requests to the Lord, but we must do it with a grateful heart (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). The wait for our Xbox Series X might have just gotten longer, and the opportunity for the Halo Infinite edition may have disappeared… but today I am just thankful because His daily bread for me has never run out. Even when it comes in the shape of a pretzel.
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