Do you ever have those days when suddenly everything you see and read is on the same subject? And that subject brings conviction?
Yep, that happened to me this week. In everything from my Bible reading to social media, grumbling and complaining stood front and center. When this happens, I’ve learned to stop and listen to the Holy Spirit, for it’s obvious He is trying to get my attention!
To be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve been complaining a lot. But I also know that grumbling and complaining is one of those foibles that is often invisible in ourselves, but glaring in others. My time in God’s word that morning had me in Exodus, listening once again to the children of Israel grumbling against Moses. Not against God, mind you. Against Moses. Against their circumstances (no food, no water). But you know what Moses said in response, after the Lord tells him He will send manna to feed the people? He says, “for He hears your grumblings against the Lord; and what are we that you grumble against us?” (Ex. 16:7)
Read that again. For He hears your grumblings against the Lord. Yet their words weren’t directed at the Lord. They didn’t technically grumble against Him. They were just letting off steam, right? Frustrated with life? And yet Moses says when they grumble, it is against God, not him. And if you think about it, isn’t that the true truth? When I grumble and complain about my circumstances or the people in my life, I’m really saying, “God, I don’t like the place where You have decided I should be right now. I think You have completely messed things up.”
Yikes! Talk about not trusting God! I never thought of my complaining that way.
Then on social media, a friend posted a link to an article by Maria Shriver about her determination to quit complaining, for she realized there is more to be thankful for than to complain about. And I thought again about the fact that when we complain, we essentially say we don’t trust God to bring good things into our lives–even good things that feel bad or hard when we are walking through them.
To come full circle, Paul’s words to the Philippians, long again committed to memory, became more clear. “Do all things without grumbling or complaining, so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” (Phil. 2:14-15) When we hold back our grumbling, we don’t do so to prove our self-control or our “goodness.” When we choose to trust God and not complain, we prove ourselves to be children our Heavenly Father, to let Him calm us in turmoil, soothe us in fear, provide for our needs, and shape our character to be like Jesus.