“No, I Really Shouldn’t Complain”
June 23, 2015
Susquehanna River from the Enola Low Grade Recreational Trail
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“Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God?'” (Isaiah 40:27). “Do everything without complaining” (Philippians 2:14).
We are often politely asked, “How are you doing today?” After all, it’s the typical social greeting we use to initiate a conversation. At this question there are those who provide the expected, “I’m fine, thank you” without really giving it much thought, and there are those who immediately begin to consider their present physical or material condition and respond accordingly with far more detail then we really want to hear!
Mike is a friend who regularly visits farmers who have chickens laying eggs used for vaccines. This requires a great amount of Quality Control and Mike, who has a science background, has a vitally important job. In fact many of our readers, regardless of where you live, are probably unaware that Mike had a role in your safe flu vaccine!
This last Saturday morning we were having a discussion in a Men’s Bible Study about thankfulness and Mike told a story about visiting an Amish farmer who would inevitably respond to his greeting, “How are you?” with this response, “O, I shouldn’t complain” (Mike tells the story using the farmer’s thick Pennsylvania Dutch accent).
After regularly hearing this for a while Mike confronted him and asked, “Can’t you do better than that?” which apparently got the man thinking and he started giving Mike a bit more positive response. One of the men in our Bible Study suggested that Mike should tell him, “Go ahead and complain and get it over with.”
Truth be told, at any given time, there is always something to complain about if that’s our focus. And of course sometimes we really are going through a tough time.
We had an opportunity to minister to a lady named Suzanne.* She had a series of tough turns in life. Her husband had died after a lengthy illness. Two of her children were living in rebellion, showing no interest in the things of God. She was taking care of two of her grandchildren and this was quite a load. She also struggled to manage financially.
She candidly expressed, “I just don’t think God cares about me anymore.” We’ve probably all met people with this degree of spiritual discouragement and some of us have been there. And I am sure some of you may be feeling that way today.
The daily text expresses an ancient complaint and yet one that is surely heard by God millions of times every day. O sure, the wording may be different, but the basic complaint remains the same. To the bitter it may be, “God doesn’t care, He’s forgotten all about me.” To the believer enduring trials it might be the heartfelt inquiry, “Does God still care?” Has He forgotten?” Has my cause been disregarded?”
The Scripture abundantly provides an answer to this complaint in the verses that follow. Hear the word of the Lord and be encouraged: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40:28,29).
Yes God cares! Today He cares about you. Whatever you’re going through or whatever you will go through, God does care and can be absolutely depended upon! He will see you through. He is steadfastly faithful! So let us “Do everything without complaining.”
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Jesus, I consider the multitude of hymns based upon Your Holy Word reminding me that You are present in the midst of my personal troubles. Edward Mote describes those times when it seems You’re hidden from our grasp, “When darkness hides His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace.” Sometimes the darkness of our ongoing struggles casts a shadow over Almighty God who works on our behalf even when He seems to be hidden from our sight. I know, in my heart of hearts, that You don’t disregard my need, so I will trust You as I call upon Your name in prayer. I am confident that You hear my plea. I have assurance that You will strengthen me in my weariness and empower me in my weakness. So I’ll continue to look to You for all my needs this day. In Your name, Jesus, I commit those things that concern me so that I won’t let them eat at me and become the things that worry or trouble me. Amen.
* Suzanne is someone we actually met in the course of our ministry but is not her real name.
Brooksyne’s footnote: In Exodus 16:1 the Israelites came to the Wilderness of Sin on the fifteenth day of the second month of their release from the Egyptians. Within verse 2 of this narration the people began to complain to Moses about their food and overall living conditions and Moses reminded them that they were ultimately complaining to God though he was the frustrated human mediator that got pummeled with their attacking jabs and ingratitude. I got to thinking about how easy it is, once we begin to complain, to be like the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings. Once we subject ourselves to bitterly complaining about our lot in life it’s easy to explore every possible territory where we might be slighted, so much so that we might find our own selves in the wilderness of sin. So when I’m going there with my thoughts and my words, I want to remind myself of this passage and ask, “Is that which I am complaining about ultimately a complaint against God?” If so, I need to align my expectations with the ultimate plan God has for me. “God will never lead you where His grace cannot keep you” was true for the Israelites and it’s also true for us today!
The accessible portion of the trail ended at this old trestle over 5 miles from the trail head. Notice how far below the trestle the current railroad tracks are. The low grade was an engineering feat from the early 1900’s that made a low grade freight line bypassing the main rail line. Numerous cuts and fills were done to keep hardly any grade differential (thus the term low grade). See here That sure makes for a nice bike path over one hundred years later!
As we arrived back to the trailhead a dark storm was on the horizon. But a train was also slowly coming down the river so I chose to wait for it! Once I hear the train whistle I’ve just got to see the train. Right after we loaded the bikes and headed in the direction of home we got the heavy downpour.
With my zeal for trains, I waited for a Norfolk Southern train to pass us. That rail line essentially follows the grade of the river. Notice at this point how we are only a little bit above that grade compared to the previous picture of the trestle when the other line is way below us.
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