“And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the Lord burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.” – Numbers 11:1
I wish God could not hear me these past couple of weeks.
If having to walk through a desert with only the clothes on your body and one kind of food to eat for months is not enough reason to complain, then I am SO guilty…
Vietnam has its challenges, but compared to a desert, it’s an oasis. With a backpack full of clothes and a variety of food to choose from, having to sleep in a hotel every night is the last thing on earth I get to complain about.
And yet, sometimes, life feels hard: when your body struggles to adjust to a new environment and your stomach rumbles a few complaints of its own; or, when you’re not able to speak the local language to say you need a bathroom or a glass of clean water. Sometimes it’s difficult to keep on walking with a tired body and a weary soul.
“We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.” – Numbers 11:5-6
We complain “with this manna before our eyes” or, like we would say in Afrikaans, “met die witbrood onder die arm” because it’s easy to believe that things were better where we came from than where we are now. We tend to forget all the reasons why we left “where we came from” and all our complaints about that place.
We all know that complaining doesn’t solve anything, and it doesn’t please the Lord. However, before we know it, we reveal our lack of faith to ourselves and those around us by the negative words that slip through our lips uncontrollably.
The Lord often reminds me that I’m just as guilty of the sin of complaining as the children of Israel were ages ago. My complaining is evidence of my lack of faith in God’s faithfulness.
We have so much to learn from the prophet Habbakuk, who said: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord , I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
Complaining takes our focus off of the wonderful work of God in progress, causing us to miss something beautiful in the moment. Instead of amplifying the glory of God’s handiwork through thanksgiving, we remain blinded to His work by focusing on the situation around us rather than looking up to the One who is able to save us from all our troubles.
Perhaps it’s time for a new approach, and a prayerful one at that, to pray for eyes of faith fixed steadfastly on the One in whom all things are possible….in the One who can change what we see and how we see it.
What if we tried to find more things to be grateful for instead of complaining? What if we asked God to show us the root of our complaints and discontent? And what if we asked Him to change our perspective so that we could see that He is able to turn ALL things into good for those who love Him?
If my stomach aches, it’s possible that I ate something that disagreed with me. In the same way, if my spirit is troubled, I need to examine myself to find the trigger. More often than not, there is a solution to every problem if we look for one rather than wallowing in despair.
We are not isolated (think of the connectivity of the internet!), and even if we were, it would simply challenge us to be more creative. We can always ask a friend for advice, and Jesus is that friend that sticks closer than a brother! Our relationships, especially with our partners, would also improve if we complained less and encouraged more.
I would like to challenge you to take your biggest complaint this week and seek a solution instead of focusing on the negatives.
Also try to find at least one thing to be grateful for in your current situation that would not have been possible if you stayed in “Egypt”. It may not seem easy at first, but I know it will bring good results in your life, and it might just be the breakthrough you’ve been hoping for 🙂
”Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”
Feel free to share it with us…