Spiritual amnesia: Remember to count your blessings

 (Numbers 13:25-33)

BY REV CANON DR JOHN SENYONYI VICE CHANCELLOR

Amnesia is the state of forgetfulness or blankness of the mind, when memory recall fails. As people grow old, their memory strength slackens – at some point doctors call it dementia. Sometimes I go through the torture of remembering a person’s name. Unfortunately, Ugandans have not learned the helpful habit of saying, “Hello, my name is …”!

But there is another form of amnesia that torments all generations. It is the blankness of our good times when facing the bad times!

Mark Twain said, “Do not complain and talk about all your problems – 80 percent of the people don’t care; the other 20 percent will think you deserve them.” When you are at school, you complain about the teachers or lecturers or administrators. You are not happy about their examinations, their coursework and their rules.

When you graduate, you find problems with getting a job and make it clear that the world is treating you unfairly. Recently, some young people have taken their grumbling to the pigsty, taking piglets to Parliament! The moment you get married, your spouse becomes ‘responsible’ for all the wrong in your home and marriage. The divorce rate is rising, and all divorce hearings are about how we have been wronged. That is why Jesus said the only reason for divorce is “your hardness of heart.” Do we ever give thanks? Even the blessings from God are cause for complaints.

We complain about school, jobs, family, property, name it. Ingratitude is a cherished hobby for many. They grumble when they have nothing and when they have plenty. One Sunday my wife and I were going for ministry. A couple asked to go with us. When they entered our car they polluted our conversation with one complaint after another, up to our destination about an hour later! They complained about everything and everyone! It was good to know they were not coming back with us!

Unfortunately, grumbling is infectious. It follows the biblical rule, “Bad company spoils good morals.” The background to Numbers 13.25-33 is that God had promised to give Israel land they would call their own, a home away from slavery. He demonstrated his power to do it even before they departed Egypt. He parted the Red Sea and they walked on dry land. They watched the Egyptian enemy drown as they pursued them.

The Lord revealed his glory at Mt. Sinai. he gave them his holy commandments that no other nation had, setting them apart from every other nation.

Thunder and lightning was at the Mountain of the Lord. A cloud and a pillar of fire never left them throughout their pilgrimage. Their walk in the wilderness was attended by numerous acts of the greatness of God. Eventually the Lord brought them to the boundaries of the Promised Land. He bid them send out twelve spies into the land. Their report would hopefully e ncourage Israel further to rise and take up the land with gratitude.

All the spies gave a favourable report about the abundance in the land. But alas! Their report was against going forward to occupy the land. The reason for those against was the Anak giants in Palestine! Only two – Caleb and Joshua – were thankful. They saw opportunity where the grumblers saw hindrance. Listen to the selfassessment of the grumblers: “And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Nobody told them what they looked like before the Anak. The grumbling spread to the whole population, as complaining always does.

The parent complains and the children learn to be ungrateful. A leader grumbles and people see only what is wrong around them. A student complains and his friends imitate his negative attitude. Someone sang a song entitled, “A thankful heart creates a thankful home.” That is the antidote for ingratitude.

Save yourself from grumbling. Learn to thank God for what you have. Each of us has something to thank God for each day

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