Wishes That Sting Psalm 106:15

He gave them their request;
But sent leanness into their soul.—Psa_106:15.

It happened one day on the St. Louis express away over in America. It was a very warm day and the passengers were feeling hot and exhausted. At one of the stations three new travelers entered the train—a very spoiled small boy of three, a foolish, indulgent mother, and a bright-faced nurse. The small boy was quite unmanageable. He screamed on the slightest provocation; he kicked and scratched his nurse; he even tore her bonnet. And when the girl showed any firmness with him the mother chide her for interfering.

Presently the mother settled down to sleep, and just then a wasp flew into the carriage and buzzed on the window close to the nurse’s seat. The small boy immediately made a grab for it, but the nurse seized his hand and said, “Harry mustn’t touch. Wasp bite Harry.”

Of course Harry immediately began to kick and to scream with renewed vigor, and the mother, aroused from her slumbers, said, without lifting her head or opening her eyes, “Why will you tease the child so, Mary? Let him have what he wants at once!”

“But, ma’am, it’s a ...” explained Mary. The mother cut her short: “Never mind what it is. Let him have it.”

Thus encouraged, the boy made a fresh grab at the wasp, and this time there was a scream which brought tears of joy to the eyes of the other passengers.

The mother woke again. “Let him have it, I say!” she exclaimed in an annoyed tone. And Mary replied, “He’s got it, ma’am!”

Now sometimes we are like that little boy in the train—we want things that are not good for us. We keep on wanting them and crying for them; we feel we won’t be happy till we get them, and the very worst thing that could happen to us would be that we should get them.

It was like that with the people of Israel to whom our text refers. God had delivered them out of the hand of Pharaoh and had brought them safely away from the land of Egypt. He had cared for them and given them water to drink and manna to eat. But later they began to grow tired of their plain daily fare. They longed after the flesh and the fruit they had eaten in Egypt, and they sat down and cried about it like a lot of babies. They went on wishing and complaining until at last God gave them their desire. He had kept it back from them because He knew it would hurt them, but they were determined to have it. And when they got it they were the worse for it.

God sent them quails—little birds something like partridges—in great abundance. They killed them and ate them. They gorged themselves until they were sick. Then a terrible plague broke out in the camp and vast numbers of them died.

But that was not all—these people were poorer in their souls. They were less noble, less brave, less happy really because they had got what they wanted. They had got their own way, but they didn’t feel at all satisfied or pleased with themselves. If they had left God to have His way, they would have been richer, and happier, and humbler, and more self-respecting.

Boys and girls, that sad story has got a very real lesson for you and me. It isn’t wrong to wish for things, but it is wrong to wish in a way that makes ourselves and everyone round us miserable. If we keep on grumbling and complaining that we haven’t such a big house to live in or so many nice toys as some other boy or girl, if we make ourselves feel envious and cross about it, we may be sure our wish is wrong.

If we keep on longing for some work to do other than that which God has given us, if we keep on wishing until we grow discontented with our lot and unfit for our duties, then we may be sure our desire is wrong.

Remember God knows exactly what is best for you and me, and He has put you in just the very best place for you, and me in just the very best place for me. The worst thing that could happen to us would be to have some of our wishes fulfilled, and the only safe way is to submit all our desires to Him. He will give us as much as we need and all that is good for us.

The secret of true happiness does not lie in getting your wish. It is contained in three short rules.

First, be contented with the things you have.

Second, serve God.

Third, try to make somebody else happy.

Once upon a time there was a king who had one little son. The boy had everything he could desire— a yacht to sail in the lake, a pony, and heaps of toys besides. Yet he was not happy. He would wander about the palace grounds with sad eyes, and an unsatisfied expression.

The king was troubled and he resolved to consult a wise old man about his son. He told the wise man that he had given the boy everything he could wish for and yet he was not happy.

The old man took a piece of paper and wrote on it some words in ink that looked like water. Then he said, “Take this paper, and at eight o’clock to-night hold it between your eyes and a lighted candle. You will then be able to read the words I have written in ink that looks like water.”

Accordingly at eight that evening the king lit a candle in his room at the palace and he held the paper before it. But on the sheet were written only these simple words—“The secret of true happiness is to do a little kindness to someone every day.”

Will you try that recipe, boys and girls? It fails.
Are you almost disgusted
With life, little man?
I will tell you a wonderful trick
That will bring you contentment,
If anything can—
Do something for somebody, quick;
Do something for somebody, quick!

Are you “awfully tired”
With play, little girl?
Weary, discouraged, and sick?
I’ll tell you the loveliest
Game in the world—
Do something for somebody, quick;
Do something for somebody, quick!

Though it rains like the rain
Of the flood, little man,
And the clouds are forbidding and thick,
You can make the sun shine
In your soul, little man—
Do something for somebody, quick;
Do something for somebody, quick!

Though the skies are like brass
Overhead, little girl,
And the road like a well-heated brick,
And all earthly affairs
In a terrible whirl—
Do something for somebody, quick;


- James Hastings, Children's Great Texts Of The Bible