Complaining in our Tents

A recent study in Deuteronomy has caused me to consider what a murmuring lot the Israelites were. But then, as it should, the Word has convicted me as I have applied it to my own life. While at first I was amazed at God’s long-suffering and love for His people in the long ago, now I stand amazed at His forbearance toward me. Maybe you feel the same—so grateful for God’s mercy and grace.

Why Do We Complain?

1) Habit—we humans are creatures of habit, and many are in the habit of complaining. Everything is negative with them.
2) Blind—how many of us have become blind to our blessings? We don’t see the good that surrounds us every moment. God’s providence is taken for granted.
3) Not honest with ourselves—we lie to ourselves sometimes and act as if life/God/everyone is against us—we have it worse than anyone—look at all I do but nobody cares! This was true of the Israelites in the wilderness. “Ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the Lord hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us…” (Deuteronomy 1:27).
4) Lack of faith—many complain because they don’t trust God. The Israelites were rebuked for their unbelief when they complained (Deuteronomy 1:32-37). When we complain, we are speaking against God’s care for us.
5) Never satisfied—some people are never satisfied. You know the ones I mean. Mama would say, “She wouldn’t be happy if she was hung with a new rope!” Maybe they’ve endured bad circumstances in life and think they have a right to complain. Maybe they enjoy the attention it brings them.

What are the Results of Complaining?

1) Constant complaining ruins relationships. Who wants to be with someone who complains all the time? The person who is never satisfied, sees only the negative and always whines about everything is not someone others will want to stay with, in friendships or marriage.
2) Complaining pulls us away from God. How do you expect to draw nearer to Him if you aren’t grateful for all He does or if you don’t trust His power and wisdom? For the Israelites, the results were doom. “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation which murmur against me?…in this wilderness they shall be consumed and there they shall die.” (Numbers 14:27-36)
3) Complaining does not adorn our souls. If we care about making our souls fit for heaven, we will strive to beautify them, not mar them with a complaining spirit.

How Can We Overcome This?

1) Pray. Prayer to God for help should always be our first response to everything in life, joy or struggle. We must pray for help and forgiveness of our complaining.
2) Focus on our blessings. We must change our negative thinking. We must see all the good, even amidst life’s difficulties. We know the Savior and enjoy the benefits of His blood! That alone should be more than enough to bring us joy!
3) Believe in God’s providence and power. When we truly trust in God’s care and His ability to handle our problems, we will stifle our complaints. He is the All-Knowing All-Powerful One who cares for me and you infinitely. His wisdom is above all—who am I to question His ways in my life?!
4) Make thankfulness your habit. Yes, habits are hard to change, but if you fill your life with His word and His way, your mind will be renewed (Rom. 12:1-2), and as you are transformed your habits will change.
5) Seek a life of holiness instead of constant self-satisfaction. As Christians we are set apar for a divine purpose. That’s what holiness is. Many complain because they seek satisfaction in everything but God. The wise man tells us to acknowledge Him in all our ways and he will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6).
6) Obey His Word. “Do all things without murmurings or disputings” (Phil. 2:14).

Whether our journey brings us to bitter water as in Marah or sweet water as in Elim (Exodus 15:23-27), may God help us not to be murmuring Israelites but grateful people of God who trust their Maker.

-Debbie Kea

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