Have you ever stopped to think about why you grumble and what it says about your view of God? OK, maybe you aren’t a grumbler, but I have been just lately. And I stand convicted that there is more to it than meets the ear. God quite dislikes it as it demonstrates our distrust in His sovereign working in the affairs of our lives.
Grumbling may be little more than a murmuring, like the subtle cooing of doves. It’s defined as a secretive conferring together, a discontented complaining. Despite its subtlety and seeming legitimacy at times it is a hazard to our faith.
Why do we grumble?
I grumble over things I cannot change. Things that are ‘just not right’ but seem to be beyond my scope of influence. When we’re stuck in situations we don’t like we’re prone to grumble. It doesn’t change anything (at least not for the good) but it lets us air our opinions and verbalize our protest. It’s the least we can do! But there’s a better alternative, one I’ve been reminded of this week.
No matter if your grumbling is a private murmuring in your ‘tent’ or a public outcry it’s a breeding grounds for discontent, doubt and rebellion. This was brought home to me through the reading of Psalm 78. It’s a lyrically beautiful retelling of God’s dealings with Israel through the wilderness years. It will leave you in awe of God’s goodness and faithfulness in the face of people who were neither good nor faithful. It’s a parable written with the next generation in mind—“so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God…and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation,…whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
That makes it a parable for us as well! This beautiful and heart-breaking narrative is ‘written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.’ (I Cor.10:11)
Rather than me multiplying words here, I’d like to do something different today. Can I encourage you to take just a few minutes to listen to Psalm 78 right now? You’ll come away in awe of our faithful and good God, and I hope encouraged to trust Him with the things that seem amiss in your life today. Go here and click the “Listen” play button. Watch for the contrast between “He….” and “They…” as you listen; then come back here for a few thoughts I had from this psalm—and share your own in the comments.
What verse or idea stood out to you?
Well, what did you think? What verses stood out to you? The contrast between God’s heart for his people, and their response was what struck me most. It could all be summed up in this: “they did not believe in God and did not trust His saving power.” They were so caught up in their cravings and desires for instant comfort and independence that they missed the very reason for their existence. They were meant to be objects of God’s love and to trust Him implicitly with life itself, so that all the nations around them could clearly see that their God was the One true God, worthy of their trust and worship. Instead they bleated about like pathetic sheep in want of a shepherd.
Yet there was nothing they needed that God did not provide. When they were thirsty He made water gush from rock! For their hunger He rained down manna, ‘the bread of the angels’ baked fresh every morning. But they outgrew the wonder of this provision and craved meat. They didn't ask for it, mind you. They set their hearts on what they missed about Egypt and they cried in self-pity, nearly driving Moses crazy. And God sent them what they craved--meat, in the form of tender, juicy quail, delivered to their tent-steps. He sent meat, but it was not what they most needed. With it came a plague.
What they most needed was to trust in God’s saving power and to be thankful for His provision. It’s what I need too. They needed to ‘rejoice (in the Lord) always, to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in all circumstances.’ (I Thess.5:16-18) This was God’s will for them, and for me.
To give thanks instead of grumbling
in the wake of unchanging situations that rile me
is to give evidence that I trust in God’s saving power.
If He works in every circumstance for my growth into Christ-likeness then what is there to grumble about? What if instead I were to pray? Perhaps this is part of the reason we’re instructed to pray without ceasing—because when we don’t we are apt to grumble or to worry or to get angry or to gossip or to do a host of other things that are not only counter-productive but uncomplimentary to the God we profess to believe in.
To pray without ceasing is to keep our hearts in a place of dependence on Him for everything, knowing He is in control and He is good. In praying we come to know God’s heart and to submit our desires to His. This is the perfect accompaniment to rejoicing in the Lord and giving thanks in all circumstances. Grumbling can’t co-exist with such bedfellows. When we're grumbling we're not praying.
I guess the question that comes to my heart through this psalm is:
Do I trust in God’s saving power, not merely to get me out of Egypt, though this is miracle enough, but to keep me as I walk the wilderness of this world?
Do I trust Him to keep me, provide for me, teach me His ways, and at last to bring me to my Inheritance? All the things I grumble about are part of the sanctifying process He’s begun in my life. The rejoicing, praying and giving thanks are His desired response. I don’t want to be a grumbler!
[If you’ve never tried leaving a comment, give it a try today. Let’s compare notes. What stood out to you in this chapter?]
And if you have technical difficulties leaving a comment…drop me an email and let me know that too! –LS
“they shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness” Ps.145:7
“Oh, that my people would listen to me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
I would soon subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes.” Ps.81:13,14
“But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat,
and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” Ps.81:16