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My Complaint

September 21, 2009

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“And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes . . . [And] the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at” (Numbers 11: 1a; 4-6)

Always, when I read the accounts of the Israelites complaining, I shake my head in self-righteous disgust. How cold they complain? How could they doubt God when they’d seen such wonders, like the parting of the Red Sea? If I’d have been there, I would not have complained, I think to myself, from my seat on my comfortable sofa.

But God has shown me more wonders than the Israelites ever saw. He’s given me the whole Word of God, full of the story of His grace, mercy, and love for me. Full of miracles. Full of truth.

Yet, when circumstances darken, I wonder if He’ll really come through. Like the people of Israel, who beheld God’s presence tangibly each day in a cloud over the Tabernacle, God’s presence in my heart and in His Word is not enough. I doubt. Like the Israelites, who’s needs of sustenance were miraculously provided each day through manna, God’s provision is just not good enough for me. I complain.

Perhaps it’s to me Jesus speaks when He challenges, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe” (John 4:48). I demand more signs and wonders than I’ve already seen–like He owes me something–or I descend into doubt and complaint. Like a child throwing a tantrum for more cookies.

For the Israelites, God’s tangible presence and provision of manna were not enough. They demanded meat. What provision has been provided to me that I’m not thankful for? What am I demanding in its place?

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Josh permalink
    September 21, 2009 8:12 am

    Excellent post lovie! I needed that reminder this morning. Love the pic too…was that from your mom’s house?

    • September 21, 2009 8:33 am

      Yes it is, a few Thankgivings ago. I think actually you took it!

      • Josh permalink
        September 21, 2009 2:12 pm

        no wonder I like it then! 🙂

  2. September 21, 2009 8:59 am

    And yet, He remembers that we are dust, and He delivered the Israelites in spite of themselves, for His glory. For all our complaining failure, we forget that He is still amazing God, and nothing we do (or don’t do) will detract from His “I AM.” It is easier to praise, to set our druthers aside, when we choose to live in grace, seeking Him.

    The Israelites saw Him only as a tool for their deliverance. They didn’t know the Person Moses encountered at Sinai. The thing we overlook most is His Person, and yet we CAN know Him because of Jesus, and still we miss His glory, because we see Him as a tool to get our way, instead of appreciating His Godness.

    Just a ramble-thought for ya… 😉

    • September 21, 2009 12:26 pm

      That’s insightful, Kelly, that he was but a tool to the Israelites. We’re more like them than we’d like. But God kept after their hearts, didn’t He, as He does ours.

  3. September 21, 2009 9:02 am

    Great post, Danielle! And very timely. I’ve been teaching the girls Philippians 2:14 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 and in the process been convicted of my own complaining and ungratefulness. Just last night I was faced with responding to a small disappointment and realized how unthankful I can be at times for all I already have.

  4. melodyejoy permalink
    September 21, 2009 2:47 pm

    Thanks for the reminder, Danielle. My “complaint” has been that God isn’t answering my prayers… Who am I to tell God how to answer my prayers!?! My job is to pray. Whew, what a relief! It is hard being the “great puppet master!” 🙂 I appreciated Kelly’s thoughts too.

    I studied a verse today, Zephaniah 3:17. “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with his love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

    I need to be quiet in HIS love and wait patiently…

    • September 21, 2009 2:54 pm

      Melodye, that’s one of my favorite verses! I love that God quiets us with his love and rejoices over us with singing.

  5. September 21, 2009 10:26 pm

    Beautiful & honest.

    I encountered a minor irritation this past weekend and started to feel aggravated. Then I stopped myself. I didn’t think of the Israelites, but I did remind myself that with all the suffering in the world and all the suffering our Lord endured, who am I to complain about a minor irritation?

    But it’s harder when the circumstances are bigger and darker to keep that same perspective and trust in the Lord.

    I want to be honest (about my struggle…without complaining) and trusting (without denying the reality of the challenge) at the same time. This is such a good reminder of how human we are and how we need the Lord, even to stay true to Him. You ask important, reflective questions.

  6. September 22, 2009 9:16 am

    Isn’t it funny, how often we (at least I) think to myself..how could they complain? How could they not believe.I mean COME ON people!
    Then I remember that last week, if we only made a little more money saved then I’d be able to settle down about our finances…I could go on about all the complaints I have…it’s pathetic!

    I read something interesting this week…how NONE of us are above tempation, and HOW can we think we are? I mean who knows and under what circumstances we might be tempted.

    YET Jesus was tempted but IS above tempation and can overcome. WHAT A COMFORT to us as sinners that we can cling to him who DIED for us so that we can be FORGIVEN for not ONLY temptations we could not overcome but for every little sin we commit each day.

  7. March 22, 2010 5:49 pm

    I enjoyed your post. I don’t know you, but I stumbled onto your blog through the “possibly related posts” section of my blog.

    I think the biggest provision that God gives to us is his very presence, which is what ironically we often demand with our questions: where is God? Why can’t I experience his presence more. In this case, we are not demanding something in the place of the provision… we are just not aware of the provision that has been given to us.

    Thanks for your words!

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