It makes me never want to complain again. Ever.
Miriam and her complaining to Aaron. Oh, the trouble it stirred up. Her words announcing, “Unclean! Unclean!” complaints that revealed an underlying disease of heart, jealousy and contempt, pouring right out of her mouth.
And the Israelites, when faced with the ripe and juicy fruit of promise, resort to complaining, fret and worry.
Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. 3 “Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” 4 Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!” Numbers 14:2-4 (NLT).
Choose a new leader. Go back to Egypt.
I wonder sometimes if that’s what complaining is all about. Choosing a new leader. Going back into captivity of the familiar (instead of the freedom of God’s promise!). Doesn’t complaining imply we know better?
I’m reading a book by Elizabeth George, Finding God’s Path Through Your Trials. It’s a library copy, otherwise I would have underlined this:
“Just as you weren’t sure why the teacher asked some of the questions [on a test], the teacher knows the reasons for the questions–each one of them. And likewise, you may not understand why you’re being tested in a certain way: But God does. He knows that it will be for your ultimate good, that it will contribute to His purposes and bring Him great glory as you pass each test and become more dependable and useful to Him. Then He can work through you even more to reach people with the Good News and accomplish His will.”
Jesus, distressed and crushed with grief to the point of death, awaiting the mob and his betrayer, took his petition by prayer to God.
“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Mark 14:36 (NLT).
The NLT reads crushed with grief, but there’s no turning back.
No. No choosing another leader. Jesus says, Father, I want your will to be done.
Lord, I’m so grateful for these texts side by side, to see how complaining leads to ungratefulness, wandering, death, remorse. Yet, even in dire circumstances, your example shows we can stand up to the test. In times of worry, fret, and grief, we can take our petition to our loving Father, who cares and leads us through trials, to His promise for our good (even when it doesn’t seem good) and His glory. I want to trust in that (in you!) and not myself.