My daughter has been struggling with whining lately. “I wanted the red one. She got more than me. I don’t want water, I want coke!” These are just a few of the annoying statements I’ve heard today. It’s so easy to spot complaining in our children, but we don’t have to look very far to see it seeping into adult conversation as well.
I was at the library with my kids last week and they were all on computers or reading, so I stole a few minutes to look at my Facebook. Here are some of the status entries that I saw on the first page I read:
- Up and grumpy… heading to work.
- Annoyed with this chilly, cloudy weather.
- My kids are driving me nuts.
- Bored of everyday chores, need something fun to do.
Three out of five status entries had some negative statement about what is going on in life. Now that we have so many mediums of communication, we also have more opportunities for complaint. Proverbs 10:19 says, “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” (NLT) We have lots of chances for “too much talk” even without our mouths. We have texting, email, phone calls, blogs, and websites to “talk too much.” I’m not saying we should all be silent and withdrawn. I can talk it up into the night with the best of them. Words are powerful. They are a great way to encourage others, work out our conflicted thoughts and feelings, and forge deep relationships with others. However, we have to realize that the more we communicate the more chances we have for sin to creep in.
I wouldn’t usually consider myself the complaining type like the Israelites in Numbers. However, as I look into my thought life and heart motives as well as the multitude of words that spill out of my mouth, I found things there like, “I wish we could take a vacation like they did. Why can’t my husband be more like hers? I’m so tired of doing this same ministry stuff – why aren’t more people serving?” Complaining is as much a heart attitude as it is the words coming out. Matthew 12:34b says, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”
So, complaining words flow out of a complaining heart. Let’s look at what the people were complaining about in Numbers and how God responded to them. In Numbers 11:1-15, we find this account:
- “Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said.” (Verse 1)
- “Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!” (Verses 4-6)
- “Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people?” (Verses 10-11)
- Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!” (Verses 13-15)
Instead of looking forward to all the good things God had in store for them, the grumbling Israelites wore rose colored glasses as they looked back on their days of slavery. We too have good things ahead for us – 1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
Complaining is expressing dissatisfaction or discontent according to Webster’s dictionary. That is just what the people of Israel were doing. They were saying, “God I know you got us out of slavery, but we are not content with your provision. We don’t like the food or the length of time it is taking to get us where we are going.”
Think about your life right now. What are you expressing discontent about lately?
Take a few minutes to focus on what God has done for you. Ask God to open your eyes to see all of His provision in your life – now and in the past. Identify three things that you are most thankful for today and ask Him to give His perspective in your complaints.