Complain, complain, complain - (the opposite of thanksgiving)
Let's face it. We all do it. It doesn't matter whether you are a Christian or not. We all complain about things in our lives, whether it's our job, people in our lives, little inconveniences, the state of the world...we all like to complain when things are not like we want them to be. It is how we express our unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Our hearts are rarely in the "gratitude" mode because there is ALWAYS something to gripe about.
Complaining by the way is the opposite of thanksgiving.
As Christians, we might even be more of a complainer than our non-believing brethren because as a people seeking to please God, we falsely believe that God always agrees and approves of our complaints against a sinful world that can result in making us arrogant, judgmental, self-righteous, unforgiving and unloving. Not admirable Christian virtues.
Real life is never perfect. Some of us are blessed, some of us struggle and some of us suffer. Some of us can live life with patience, optimism, endurance and faith, while some just can't stand when things aren't absolutely going our way.
God has given us prayer and we are able to talk to Him about our concerns, but are our prayers also a lot of complaining and very little thanksgiving?
So many of us pray for God to address our complaints, yet we don't think anything we are doing is wrong. We pray for God to change people and situations that rub us the wrong way, but never reflect to see if perhaps we have contributed to these problems or if we can do something to improve the situations.
Our complaining ungrateful attitude is one of the reasons things never seem to work out. Negativity, lack of faith, pride and self-righteousness stop any good from blossoming.
How many of us complain that the world is a cold and unloving place, yet we do nothing to spread God's love around? Or we complain about how our society is spiraling down into the abyss, yet we make no effort to contribute, help, join in or volunteer to make the world better. We complain about everyone, but then do nothing for anyone. And how many times do we complain to God because we don't feel like He is doing anything for us, yet in turn, we don't thank Him for what He has done?
As Christians we are not to be a complaining people.
We are also not to be a people who does nothing, believing God is only there to fix things, grant our wishes and bless our lives.
One might say that there is a difference between complaining to God about the state of our lives versus complaining AGAINST God because of it, but then, when we complain about our lives, are we also not complaining to God for allowing us to suffer, withholding His blessings and not doing enough to help us?
God went through that with the Israelites in the desert after their miraculous exodus out of Egypt. Even though they witnessed the plagues against the Egyptians, the parting of the Red Sea and were freed from slavery to be a people of God being led by God himself...the Israelites still doubted, rebelled and complained. Their grumbling, of course, made God VERY angry.
"Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp" - Numbers 11:1
And when they saw that the Promised Land was inhabited by a strong people, they lost all their faith in God despite all the miracles they witnessed. Because of their rebellion, lack of faith, ungratefulness and complaining... those Israelites never set foot into the Promised Land and they died in the desert.
"Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it." -Numbers 14: 22-23
But God reveals His purpose in Deuteronomy.
“All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your forefathers. You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.-Deuteronomy 8: 1-10
Ahh...so it was a test of their faith! They were saved by God's miracles that brought them out of bondage and ensured their survival in the desert and now it was their turn to show their faith, gratitude and service. But they failed.
And then there was Job who was blameless before God and whom God poured so many blessings, but then God allowed him to be tested by Satan. Now it was time for Job to prove His faith. Job had EVERYTHING, but then lost it all, and even his wife wanted him to complain and shake his fist against God.
"Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips." - Job 2: 9-10.
"He said 'Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.'” - Job 1:21
Job never said a word against the Lord and in the end, God rewarded him.
You see in both cases, it was all about what was in their hearts that mattered. It is from the heart that complaining can come out or thanksgiving and praise.
As Christians we need to trust God, wait on Him, and believe that "all things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose." - Romans 8:28.
There is a purpose for everything and God wants us to grow in our faith journey with Him, but there will be times when God will test our faith. Even though our hearts are burdened and nothing ever seems right, we need to take actions to change the issues that are not right, pray for the things we can't change and give thanks to God because we know that all problems, trials and tribulations are opportunities for us to learn from, overcome, take action and grow.
We need to move off from the spirit of fault-finding and complaining and adopt the spirit of goodness and praise because when we can follow God in thanksgiving despite the scorching, barren, oppressive desert around us, then He can finally lead us into the Promised Land.
"I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth."- Psalm 34:1
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