When we grumble and complain about our circumstances – whatever those may be – against whom are we really grumbling and complaining?
When I read about the history of Israel in the Old Testament, I am always struck by their grumbling and complaining. They complain they have no food. They complain that they are thirsty. They complain that Moses was on the mountain for too long. Each time they complain, Moses goes to God and He addresses their complaint. What they seem to forget, however, is where they came from. They came from bondage in Egypt where they were forced to labor in hard conditions. Through the power and intervention of Almighty God, Israel was freed from their bondage with the promise of a new land reserved by God just for them – a land flowing with milk and honey. But in the heat of the moment, all perspective is lost as the immediate circumstance takes center stage in their lives.
It’s easy for us modern day Christians to look down our noses at Israel’s lack of faith and perseverance. But, on closer examination, are we really much different from them? Of course, few of us come from a life of enslaved bondage. But think about this: God has delivered us from a different sort of bondage; a more sinister and evil bondage called sin. God tells us in His Word that all have sinned and have fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23). Our sin separates us from God, and a life of sin condemns us to an eternity of torment.
Just as God rescued Israel from their enslavement to Egypt, so He also rescues us from our bondage to sin – not because we are deserving; not because we are worthy – but because He loves us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16). What amazing news!
So what does this have with Israel’s grumbling and complaining, or mine for that matter? Here is where the rubber meets the road: I grumble and complain often; don’t you? I complain about traffic rather than thanking God for my air-conditioned vehicle and the nice roads that take me to and from work each day. I complain about ownership changes to my employer rather than thanking God for a fulfilling career that enables me to provide for my family. I complain that my steak isn’t prepared exactly as I like it rather than thanking God for a full stomach. I complain about my shortcomings rather than thanking God for my strengths. Even knowing the reality of eternal life by my faith in Jesus, I find reasons to complain – just like the Israelites. My complaining is evidence of misplaced trust, just as theirs was. May God forgive me for my lack of faith.
This is Holy Week. This week we Christians remember and celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection that delivers us from the bondage of sin into His eternal presence. This week especially, let us not allow life’s circumstances to derail our worship and replace it with grumbling and complaining. Instead, let us pray that every time we are tempted to gripe or complain, God will remind us of the rich blessing we have through His Son, Jesus Christ as we celebrate the Good News of eternal life through Him.
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