Exodus 15:24 (NIV) "So the people grumbled against Moses, saying 'What are we to drink?' " Ex. 16:2 "In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron."
Numbers 14:27 "How long will this wicked community grumble against me (God)? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites."
"OOOoooooohhhhhh, . . . theyyyyy . . grumble on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, grumble on Thursday too, grumble on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, grumble the whole week through. Ooohhhhh, . . . they . . . . grumble on Monday, Tuesday, Wed. . . . . "
My pastor's wife taught our class this little jingle when I was in junior high. Each of us felt like we were the official Grumble Police. If we heard someone during our class time grumble, complain, or communicate with a negative attitude we would chime in with this song as a reminder to be careful of grumbling. It seemed like a silly thing at the time, but it has stayed with me since then. Just last week I taught our boys this catchy chant.
It seems that our home has recently been afflicted with a case of the grumbles. It is really getting under my skin. What's for dinner? I really don't like that. Uuggh, I'm not hungry. To which I respond with a pasted on smile, "Fine, feel free to wait for breakfast. You know it's not a restaurant around here." Or, Why can't I do ____? All my friends get to. What about, That's not my chore, why do I have to help with it? Or, Why can't we go to Wahooz, we never get to go there?
Before I cast a stone towards my boys, I confess to you that the Lord humbled me last week to consider my own grumbles. Take a drink of humility Hester. Don't you love it when the Lord confronts? Just last week I complained that our kitchen and dining room were not big enough. I also groaned over an oil leak in our van because all I can see is a dollar sign. Then, I belly-ached over snack wrappers strewn about in the back of the van.
Grumbling or complaining affects us all at some point. Life is full of disappointment. Each day brings its own set of difficulties. Life does not satisfy like we would like. Do you find yourself stuck in a rut of grumbling? Recognizing why we complain is an important step in striving to mature in this area.
The Israelites also had a rampant grumbling problem. Exodus 15 & 16 & Numbers 14 record several of these accounts. Before their grumbling started, Exodus 15 records a beautiful song the Israelites sang to the Lord in honor of His greatness and power. The Israelites had just walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. God delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians after having lived in slavery and oppression for 430 years. Their response to God was worship.
After this time of praising God, Moses led them into the desert. Within three days the Israelites began to complain about their circumstances. They couldn't find water to drink and a few short verses later they belly-ache again because they are hungry (Exodus 16:2).
Never mind the glorious miracles they just experienced. Did they forget what God had recently done for them? Did they forget where God was taking them: the Promise Land, flowing with milk and honey? The Israelites quickly started comparing their current circumstances with their old life in Egypt." If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt. There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted."
In no time the Israelites hearts were discontent which led them to treat God with contempt (Numbers 14:23). The Hebrew word for contempt means to spurn, abhor, and despise. Ultimately, God disciplined their contempt for Him by not allowing this generation who crossed the Red Sea to ever enter the Promise Land (except for Caleb and Joshua).
It may be easy to look at the Israelites and think, Man, they just didn't get it. How could they grumble so much? Then I am reminded, sometimes we act the same way. How easy it is for us to forget what God has done. When we get disgruntled with life we can lose sight of where God is wanting to take us. Other times we make comparisons which lead to ingratitude. If we're not careful this ingratitude can breed contempt.
In my experience, I find myself led to complain when my heart is not thankful and when I am discontent. These two go hand in hand. My ungratefulness usually stems from discontentment which is fueled when I compare what I wish was different and what I wish I had. For example, my kitchen and dining room were perfectly fine until I visited my friends kitchen and started making comparisons.
The result of ingratitude and discontent is grumbling . When our heart is not thankful and content, it becomes easier to have a negative outlook. Contentment serves to curb contempt. Maintaining an eternal perspective while we grow toward maturity in Christ will enable us to respond with gratitude and contentment regardless of life's circumstances.
"OOOoooohhhhhhh, . . . theeyyyyy . . . . are thankful on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, thankful on Thursday too, thankful on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, thankful the whole week through. OOoohhhh, . . . theyyyy . . . . are content on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, content on Thursday too . . . . . . ."
Keep a list of the things you grumble about this week. Evaluate them and ask the Lord to help you recognize the root problem to your complaints. He can help you overcome the tendency to complain.
Ask Him to also help you restate your complaint into a positive response. For example, "Lord, while I know I don't have the money this month to buy _________, help me to be content with what I do have."
Find a concordance and look up verses pertaining to complaining/grumbling; pick two and write them on an index card to memorize.
Do you find yourself worshiping God like the Israelites one minute, and then grumbling the next?
When do you tend to complain the most? What do you believe is the root problem when you grumble?
Is there an area of discontent in your life that needs special attention?
What do find yourself complaining about? Schedule? Relationships? Conflict? Job?
Who do you grumble against? Spouse? Kids? Parents? Friends? Boss? Co-workers? God?
Heart Changing Word:
Philippians 2:16 "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe."
1 Corinthians 10:10 "And do not grumble, as some of them did."
Ephesians 5:20 "Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ."
1 Thessalonians 5:16 "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Timothy 6:6-8 "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."
Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.