“The Peril Of Complaining”

Breckenridge, CO“Lofty Mountain Grandeur”
Breckenridge, CO
Photo by my cousin Georgia McKelvey

“The Peril Of Complaining”

Message summary: We can have an attitude of complaining or that of thankfulness. The choice is ours!

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“The whole congregation of the Israelis complained against Moses and Aaron in the desert” (Exodus 16:2).

"Thou Shalt Not Whine"
Although “Thou Shalt Not Whine” is not included in the Ten Commandments it’s certainly a good Bible-based rule to live by!

Babylon BeeThe Babylon Bee is a satire site that has a way of hitting the nail squarely on the head! A recent Bee article’s headline reads “Study: Average American Now Complains More In A Week Than People Living Through The Black Plague Did Their Entire Lives”. *

“‘There’s just so much more going wrong now,’ said Karen Maxwell, a college student. ‘Things were just much simpler during the Black Death. All they had to deal with was squalor, starvation, and the constant threat of disease. Nowadays we have microaggressions, student debt, gluten, unequal pay for women, GMOs. The list just goes on and on. So it’s no wonder we complain more.’

‘It just makes sense,’ she added before going back to using her smartphone, a device that would have seemed like dark magic to people living just a hundred years ago.”

It does seem complaining has increased in our lifetime and the sources become more and more trivial. Just consider the last time you complained, even in your heart?

Complaining (AKA as grumbling, whining, murmuring) is essentially our reaction to a perceived unfairness. “I don’t deserve this” or “It’s not fair”, we may say or certainly think. But there’s a wonderful theological truth expressed early in the Bible by Abraham that we should hide deep within our souls. “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). The answer to that question is always “Yes”.

Complaining is not new but it is an ancient affliction. The daily text begins, “The whole congregation of the Israelis complained against Moses and Aaron in the desert”. They had just been delivered in a remarkable, miraculous way from Egyptian bondage. They should be immune from complaining, at least for awhile, but it didn’t take long.

The source of their complaining in this instance was their hunger. They recalled a very selective and likely embellished memory from Egypt, “There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted.” This is quite a contrast to the description of their living conditions when they actually lived there! (see Exodus 2:23)

Today, we ask you, are you living with a healthy, non-complaining outlook, expressing God’s love and providential care, even during seasons of “difficulty” that may prompt complaining? Or are you, like the Israelites in our text, focusing on the hardships you face? If so, that focus usually leads to complaining, self-pity, or even embellishing comparisons from the past.

William Law, who lived in the early 1700’s observed, “Whenever you find yourself disposed to uneasiness or murmuring at anything that is the effect of God’s providence, look upon yourself as denying either the wisdom or goodness of God.”

Often our concept of fairness is based on how we perceive others are doing, especially if we think they’re doing better or they are not having a trial like we are. If they are doing better or are not undergoing a trial we may think, “That’s not fair”. But we rarely tend to apply this sense of fairness when we are doing better than others!

The other day we watched a TV program that documented the abject poverty in a third world country focusing on the daily life of a small child who wakes up hungry and goes to bed hungry. It was heart-breaking. Later we enjoyed our evening meal out on our deck under our Gazebo. As we offered thanks to God I paused in my prayer and thought about the TV program we had seen and contrasted that to our prosperous setting. I found myself expressing to God, “It’s not fair”, realizing we have it so good!

Menno Brubaker at 100We have two attitudes we can live with: One is that “We have so much to complain about”, although few would be this blunt in wording; they just demonstrate a complaining spirit.

The preferred attitude is “We have so much to be thankful for.” Menno, who lived to be 102, often sat near us in church. Long before we met him, in his youth and prime of life, he was a worship leader, Sunday School teacher and very active in the kingdom of God. During his later years he used a walker and was nearly deaf but he still attended every Sunday and often greeted us by saying, “We have so much to be thankful for”.

Do you have a healthy non-complaining outlook? Do you speak often of God’s love and providential care, even in seasons of “difficulty”?

What’s your choice?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, it is impossible for me to give sincere thanks to You unless I have a grateful heart. Open my eyes to see and verbalize the little blessings that come even when I’m walking through dark clouds of difficulty. My daily blessings, by far, outnumber my troubles. Good health, comfortable shelter, abundant food, a loving family, steady work, caring friendships and many other blessings seem all too common so I often take them for granted. At times I even feel entitled to these blessings. Help me not to wait until trouble erupts before I look to You. Instead I want to be thankful for Your goodness toward me for past blessings and to remain confident that You will be just as faithful in providing for my future needs. And remind me to never take personal credit but realize that all good things are from You. In Your name, Jesus, I thank You today!  Amen.

Cow chasingWe have some interesting experiences on our commute to serve companies as chaplains throughout our rural area. Very early yesterday driving along Echo Valley Road north of Mount Joy we saw an Amish (or Mennonite) mother and daughter moving their cows across the road from the milking barn to pasture. However several cows were stubborn, such as this one, who must have reasoned the grass along the road must be better, so Stephen got out to assist. The sun was brilliant making it hard to photograph.
Lebanon County farm We enjoy how the sunshine brightens this farm in Lebanon County. Not visible in the photo but part of the beauty when we first passed the place was an older couple sitting out on the porch with the farmer in his straw hat.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“That’s Just What Grace Does”  Video  Brian Free & Assurance

* Study: Average American Now Complains More In A Week Than People Living Through The Black Plague Did Their Entire Lives Babylon Bee article (satire) mentioned in our first paragraph.

Finally today:

Kraybill Church RoadLast night, right in our own back yard, we  enjoyed the country sounds of the horse clip clopping along as it pulled the buggy past our house.