Several years ago I studied the Life of Moses in Bible Study Fellowship. During one morning’s lecture, our teaching leader told us that grumbling and complaining about our circumstances is really grumbling and complaining against God.
Let me tell you — hearing that was uncomfortable. I wanted to forget that part of her lecture and just stuff my brain with the historical and theological facts and information. But try as I might to plug my ears and close my eyes and say, “Na na na na na. I’m not listening!” I had heard her, and I could not shake her words from my mind.
Over the next few weeks, I’d be at my apartment unloading the dishwasher or making dinner or folding laundry — minding my own business, for heaven’s sakes! — and ZING, out of nowhere, that statement would pop into my mind. When we grumble and complain about our circumstances, we’re really grumbling and complaining against God.
And the more the words rolled around in my head, the more I realized the truth bound up in that sentence.
When I gripe about the weather, essentially I am telling God, “You made a day of crappy weather, Creator and Sustainer. C’mon, You could do better.” Or when I whine about how my house is too cramped and small, I’m basically saying, “God, what You gave me isn’t good enough. You’re not a good provider.”
My full-blown pity parties are decorated with banners exclaiming, “God, You alone are not enough.”
But then God’s Spirit reminded me that gratitude is the antidote to grumbling.
So every time complaining filled my heart and mind, I chose to counter that with thanksgiving. Instead of dwelling on the murmuring and grumbling, I would name at least three things I could be grateful for.
It works like this —
Geesh, I hate doing laundry! I think some of these clothes aren’t even actually dirty! Those rotten kids put clean clothes in their hampers! As the thought rumbles through my brain, I stop. Thank you, God, for these children. Thanks that they are healthy enough to play and make their clothes dirty. Thanks that they clean their own rooms. Thanks that I have a washer and dryer and don’t have to beat my laundry on rocks in a river.
Ugh, I hate cold weather. I’m freezing, and I might not feel warm again until spring! Just as I start to feel good and grouchy about the cold temperatures and the stupid heat pump that doesn’t ever make the house feel warm, I stop myself. Ok, I am thankful for hot cocoa, warm socks, fuzzy blankets. And I’m thankful for kids who will snuggle up to me and make me feel warm.
Gratitude is the antidote to grumbling. Thankfulness overcomes complaining. We can’t feel very discontent when we’re feeling grateful.
Lately, I’ve sort of ignored the lesson I learned from the Israelites’ experience in the desert. I’ve again gotten comfortable with grumbling and complaining. So I’m glad for the holiday that reminds me to be thankful. It’s time for me to capture those complaining thoughts and replace them with gratefulness again.
Because God is enough. He is good. He does bless me far more than I deserve. And I don’t really want to grumble against God. I just want my kids to put their clean laundry away.