The people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD , and when he heard them his anger was aroused.
— Numbers 1 1 :1
We complain about the weather. Bad traffic. Long days at the office. We grumble about our spouses or about being single. You name it, and we find a reason to talk about it and feel frustrated because of it. Complaining is so commonplace in our culture.
But it seems that God takes complaining far more seriously than we do. Why? Because the real source of our complaints is not our circumstances; the real source of our complaining is our attitude toward God. So while complaining doesn’t always seem like a big deal to us, it is to Him.
The Bible’s record of the Israelites being rescued out of Egypt and then wandering in the wilderness is a great example of how easy it is to lose sight of God and give into grumbling. On numerous occasions, shortly after seeing the goodness and power of God show up, His people quickly forgot. They started making assumptions about God and accusations toward Him.
They complained about not having enough food (Exodus 16). And then when water appeared to be in short supply, they grumbled about that too (Exodus 17:1–7). Nearly a year later, after setting out from Mt. Sinai, the Israelites “complained about their hardships” (Numbers 11:1) such that the Lord could hear them. To be clear that God is not indifferent to our complaining, the writer explained that God heard them and “his anger was aroused.”
So what’s the big deal about complaining? While our circumstances may very well be hard, if not tragic, complaining often reflects a blindness to God’s abundant grace and faithful promises. Complaints question God’s love, presence, and purposes. And many times our complaining is really questioning whether God knows what He is doing. The problem with our complaining is not our hardships; it is with our heart.
Today, whatever circumstance you find yourself in, remember how good and faithful God is. Meditate on what you have been given! God is good. He is faithful. Your soul can be settled in Him.
I praise You, Lord, for You have been good to me. You are faithful, and Your love endures forever. Forgive me for the times when I lose sight of who You are and all You have done for me. Guard my heart from grumbling against You. In Jesus’ name, amen.
In what ways does complaining show blindness to God’s grace and faithfulness? How does gratitude guard your heart against grumbling? I’d love to hear in the comments!
Excerpted with permission from Settle My Soul: 100 Quiet Moments to Meet with Jesus, copyright Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk.