One of the first verses we taught our kids to memorize is Philippians 2:14:
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing…” (NIV)
And it’s not just about getting them to obey without objection (though that is, admittedly, a goal). Complaining can really drag you down quickly.
And, boy howdy, does it drag down those closest to you.
There’s been a lot of complaining around my house lately. I’m not going to point fingers… but there are three men (one big, two small) in this house that have high expectations, and when those expectations aren’t met, well…
I’ve taken to an approach that is rather different from my norm. In the sense that I typically respond in extreme frustration. Now, don’t get me wrong, a person can only take so much of the negativity before she succumbs to it herself. But I’m trying really hard to hold my head high and always remind certain individuals of the positive in any given situation. Granted, sometimes I may be the only one that sees it. I’m ever the optimist though. It’s how I’ve survived the turmoils of my life (another post, another day).
As I’ve learned in the past year, you can’t push through an obstacle (regardless of how much you cling to Jeremiah 29:11) with Complaining as your travel buddy. Not only does it make you incapable of moving forward, but sometimes God will keep you just where you are until the complaining stops.
After all, look at the Israelites. An 11 day trek taking 40 years to accomplish? And why? Because they couldn’t see past the difficulties and focus on the amazing things God was doing in their lives:
So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?”…Then the Lord said to Moses: “How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.” Numbers 14: 1-4, 11-12 (NIV)
They were a bunch of whiny babies. I mean, really – there is no denying that. Yes, they had to endure some pretty crummy turmoil. And I’m for a little venting sometimes, especially in the sense of being real with God and expressing how you feel about a situation to Him or to a godly confidant. But, at the end of the day, we need to focus on the fact that God’s ways are bigger and better than ours. He is sovereign. He sees all of time at once (the Doctor Who reference is not lost on me here, people). It is our own inability to perceive time correctly that is the set back, causing us to focus so much on the muck we’re sloshing through right now, and not enough on the solid, level ground awaiting us.
When life hands you mud, make a mud pie. Or jump, splash, and stomp in that pool of gunk. Sure, you’re going to get dirty, but isn’t that much better than sinking like Artax in the Swamps of Sadness? Resist the desire to complain about where you are right now, and allow God to show you where you’re going. He’s going to keep you here until you accept it as the journey He has you on. It could be you that’s making it 40 years instead of 11 days. Who can hear God speaking over all that moaning and groaning? God can’t do the work in you that He has planned for this situation until you release it and let Him.