We just came back from a week at the beach. We spent several lovely days splashing in the waves, building castles in the sand, and enjoying time with our cousins. But, sadly, we had to return early when our middle child caught the stomach bug. It wasn’t what we had planned, but he was better the day after we returned, and we were able to have a couple easy days at home before Daddy had to return to work.
Once we started settling back into our routine the very next day, the whining began. “We never do anything fun! What do you have planned for us today? We’re so bored! You have to take us somewhere!”
Oh, how quickly our children forget the wonderful memories we create for them! I have often said that they start moaning that they are bored just minutes after we leave a fun adventure! It seems that they are never happy with what we do!
But the truth is that Mama is right there with them. I admit that coming home from vacation was a real let-down. We only get to have one family vacation this year (and that’s more than most people can say!), and it was disappointing to have to return so soon. Getting back into routine wasn’t much fun either. There were errands to run, appointments to keep, and chores to do. While I found myself fussing at the kids for their own whining, I realized that I was doing the same thing to my heavenly Father! “Why won’t the kids stop whining? Why does everyone else get to go on so many vacations while we’re stuck at home for the rest of the summer? Why aren’t there any friends to hang out with?” And the list goes on and on. Sometimes I wonder if God gets tired of listening to me!
I have been reading Connilyn Cossette’s Out of Egypt trilogy, and I have been meditating on the plight of the Israelites. As I have looked deeper at the lives of God’s chosen people, I have felt like a kindred spirit–always whining and complaining!
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” (Ex. 14:10-12).
The Israelites had been praying for a way out of Egypt for 400 years! And now that they have their chance, they begin complaining at the first obstacle in their way. I can be like that, too. I pray for a vacation, but then I complain when the vacation isn’t exotic or ends sooner than planned. Grumble, grumble, grumble.
But God is patient with us, isn’t He? He rescues us again and again–just as He rescued the Israelites again from Pharaoh’s army. And they rejoiced in His provision in the very next chapter of Exodus, singing and dancing to the glory of the Lord.
But the Israelites weren’t done complaining! After wandering for a little while in the desert, they started to grumble again.
The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2 In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3 The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death” (Ex. 16:1-3).
But, like I said, God is patient toward us. He is always faithful. So what did God do to these grumbling Israelites, who longed to go back to a life of slavery instead of following Him? He rained down bread from heaven!
Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions (Ex. 16:4).
God has promised to “supply all [our] needs” (Phil. 4:19), yet we still doubt His goodness and love! And He is still patient toward us!
Eventually, the Israelites even begin to complain that God is raining down bread that tastes like honey (Num. 11). They complain that they are thirsty (Ex. 17). They complain about Moses’ leadership (Num. 14). They even complain about the Promised Land (Num. 14). Grumble, grumble, grumble.
The truth is, when we grumble, we are sinning. We are taking our eyes off the One Who graciously gives us all things! We lose our testimony because we wallow in what we want and how we are discontent instead of pointing others to the One Who will provide for us.
Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain (Phil. 2:14-16).
It’s easy to grumble. Life is hard. Parenting is hard. Kids whine and demand and disobey. Being a stay-at-home mom can be lonely. Depression can easily set in. That’s when we need a reality check. We need to realign our focus and fix our eyes back on Jesus. It’s hard to complain when we recount all the ways we have been blessed.