"Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD,
and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp." Numbers 11:11 (NIV)
As we were getting ready to leave for vacation, one of my children asked for a new video game to play on the drive. Knowing all of our available funds were ear-marked for the trip, I told my child "no" and explained in a compassionate and clear reason why I would not be spending money on a video game prior to a vacation. I explained how much fun we would have and how much this fun would cost. Which, as I was sure he understood, did not leave money for buying video games.
At what I thought was a perfectly logical explanation, that same child, who should have been agreeing with me and trying to find ways to help make this wonderful vacation happen, actually got annoyed. With me. He said, with a very frustrated voice, that he never got anything he wanted. Accompanied with a heavy dramatic sigh, crossed arms and pout.
The tone of his voice, his negative words, and his dramatic body language, raised my eyebrows (I would have only raised one if I could). My back straightened and one hand rose to my hip. "Really?" I said in a low and deceptively calm voice. "You never get anything you want? On the day before we are leaving for an amazing trip that your father and I have worked hard to give you, you can actually say that you have nothing you want?"
Can I just tell you that an ungrateful spirit really is really hard for me to deal with? Especially when I know what is in store.
Sometimes I wonder if that must be how God feels when I grumble about what I don't get. Like when I went through infertility for three years before getting pregnant … three times … then adopting. In hindsight, God was really giving me three more years of wearing a size ten and a brain that could finish a complete thought. At that time, all I saw was emptiness.
The truth is, my child was just demonstrating a human reaction to being told "no" or "not now" by someone who knows what the future holds. Sometimes God withholds a "yes" knowing we need to be prepared to receive His goodness in His time. Other times, when we've been told "no" due to our own bad choices or those of others, God withholds a "yes" to teach us something. Or it's a permanent "no" to protect us. Whichever way, God is always working things together for the good of those who love Him.
I don't think my son ever fully understood why I said "no" to the video game. But over time, as he grew and matured, he learned to trust me more, and believe that I really loved him in spite of saying "no." Even as adults, we have trouble understanding God's ways. Sometimes we may never understand. When that happens, I choose to do a few things that help me mature as a believer. Maybe they will help you too:
1) I choose to not complain to others about God.
2) I am honest with God about how I feel, but I don't accuse Him of evil or being out to hurt me.
3) I choose to trust Him. When the doubts start to surface, I choose again to trust Him again.
4) I sing His praises. It reminds me of God's true character, which is always good.
Hearing "no" is never easy. However, as children of a loving Heavenly Father, we can learn over time to trust that He really does have something planned that we are going to love more than what we want right now. When we trust God is working behind the scenes for us, we can control a complaining spirit that threatens to steal our joy. And restore our faith in God's goodness.
Dear Lord, I know I'm often like a child when I get told "no." Help me to understand in my head and in my heart, that You truly love me, and that You are planning something good. Forgive me when I doubt you and voice those doubts in a complaining way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
What does complaining to others reveal about your character at that moment?
What are some things you can do to stop the complaining cycle and start being more positive?
Psalm 142:2, "I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble." (NIV)
Philippians 2:14-15, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." (NIV)