There’s another pandemic happening, and it’s reached my house. Everyone has come down with it. It’s more contagious than Covid but has been around since the fall of Adam and Eve. Complaining. And I’m tired of listening to it! I’ve come down with it too because there’s no immunity to this disease.
The Israelites were expert complainers. I’m sure they felt justified in their complaints and dissatisfaction, but when I look at their situation, I see how self-centered and prideful they were. The Israelites had everything they needed – food, water, shelter, and guidance from you via pillars of cloud and fire. Yet they still complained. They didn’t care what you had given them or done for them in the past (they were ungrateful), they showed their pride and lack of trust in you because they thought they knew better than you, the creator of the universe.
We can be blind to our blessings when we complain even though we have enough food, water, shelter and guidance through your Holy Spirit. When things are not to our liking, our complaints show our self-centeredness. When we complain about our lack of something, we show our mistrust in you. Let us take this opportunity to rely on you instead. For we are to trust you with all our heart and lean not on our own limited understanding. In all our ways we are to submit to you, and you will make our paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Indeed, our understanding is limited. When you ask us:
Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know. (Job 38:4-5)
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this. (v. 18)
What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? … Do you know the paths to their dwellings? Surely you know for you were already born! You have lived so many years! (v. 19-21)
Can you bind the beautiful Pleaides? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear (Leo) with its cubs? (v 31-32)
Do you hunt prey for the lioness and satisfy the hunger of the lions when they crouch in their dens or lie in wait in a thicket?
Who provides food for the ravens when its young cry out to me to wander about for lack of food? (v. 39-41)
Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? (40:8)
Do you have an arm like God’s and can your voice thunder like his? (v.9)
Who is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me. (41:10-11)
Let us not be ungrateful like the Israelites, let us give thanks for everything you give us.
[Speak your blessings]
You have glorious riches and much wisdom. All our complaints give us an opportunity to rely on you. Life is hard and not everything is a complaint. Our complaints express our dissatisfaction with what’s happening. But there are also situations too big for us to handle.
Let us place before you people and circumstances we entrust to your care.
[Speak your concerns]
As we lay these things at your feet, we feel so inadequate and rightly so – because we are. Without You we are inadequate to meet any need.
When we are tempted to complain and ask why we can’t complain because everyone does, let us be reminded of Paul’s words to the Philippians.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. (Phil 2:14-16)
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Phil 4:7-9)