People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining. ~ Stephen Hawking
Discontent, blaming, complaining, pity cannot serve as a foundation for a good future, no matter how much effort you make.~ Eckhart Tolle
Complaining…we all do it, and we don’t see it as a serious problem. It’s so common that even people in the non-Christian world (as in the quotes above) recognize that it’s not the best way to live your life. Of course, the reason non-Christians would advise against complaining are based on the fact that it impacts YOU negatively, not because it violates any moral code.
Complaining is so ubiquitous that many of us have rationalized that it is actually a sign of how aware we are of injustice or evil in the world. If only the government wouldn’t do such and such. If only my boss didn’t treat me the way he/she does. If only those other drivers wouldn’t act that way. If only God would remove this person (or this temptation) from my life, and on and on. Is complaining just a minor personality flaw that only impacts me negatively? Surely that’s not a sin that God has much of a problem with, is it?
It might surprise you to know that many verses in the Bible are devoted to the topic of grumbling and complaining. God calls it to our attention quite early in the Bible, as early as the second book of the Old Testament, Exodus.
No sooner had Moses delivered the Israelites from their captivity in Egypt than they began to complain. They complained when there wasn’t water. They complained when they didn’t know where they would find food. They complained when they were tired of manna and wanted to enjoy the variety of food that they had in Egypt. They complained when they didn’t get meat to eat. In fact, there are ten different episodes in Exodus where the people grumbled against God for what He had provided for them…and what they felt He wasn’t providing for them.
It’s easy for us to think that we wouldn’t have done the very same thing; that we would have been thankful for all that God had done for us. We believe that our grumbling and complaining is much more justified…or is it? When we don’t take the time to reflect on all the blessings God has given us, we’re marching down the same road they did. If we keep going that direction, we will also end up in a wilderness experience.
If you are in a bleak wilderness today, or if you have realized that you’re lacking in thankfulness but overflowing with grumbling, it might be time to take an inventory of what God has done for you, and not just lately.
Start with the things that you take for granted most days. We live in a country where knowledge about who Jesus is and how He can become our Savior is easy to find, and we are free to worship Him openly. Few of us have gone hungry or been lacking a roof over our head. List as many things as you can think of that illustrate that God loves you and is concerned for your welfare.
Next, compare that list with whatever it is that is causing you to grumble and complain. Considering all that God has already done for you, do you really think He doesn’t love you, that He doesn’t see you, or that He doesn’t care? Probably many of the things on your blessing list you never even thought to pray for, yet God provided them for you.
Complaining is bad for us, but not because it will alienate us from our friends. The harm that complaining does is alienate us from fellowship with our Heavenly Father. We can’t have peace of heart and fulfillment in life unless we are connected to Jesus with a spirit of gratitude.
Jesus, we ask your forgiveness for our attitude of grumbling and complaining. Help us remember your goodness and your blessings to us, and spend more time praising you than bemoaning our difficulties. Thank you most of all for giving us eternal life and forgiveness of sin. In Your holy name, Amen.