This morning I woke up in a mood to complain. It’s not that anything in particular had gone wrong, it's just that I woke up focused on the glass being half empty, rather than half full.
Fortunately, my negative mindset didn't keep me from sitting down with my Bible to do some reading - and the Lord led me to Exodus 17:23-26. If you’re not familiar with that passage, it says: “When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah, which means ‘bitter’. Then the people complained and turned against Moses. ‘What are we going to drink?’ they demanded. So Moses cried out to the Lord for help, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink. It was there at Marah that the Lord set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to Him. He said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, obeying His commands and keeping all His decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you’.”
In this passage, we read how the Israelites - who were desperately thirsty - were provided for by God. But in His provision, they chose to focus on the fact that the water He gave them was bitter. Their response is especially interesting because this is the group of folks that God had rescued out of Egypt with all kinds of miracles. As a matter of fact, they had just witnessed God open up the Red Sea for them to cross, so obviously they have been cared for by a God who can do amazing things. However, when they get to Marah, they quickly return to looking at their problems from their perspective, completely forgetting the miracle working power of their God.
So with that mindset firmly in place, they complained to Moses. But in doing so, what they failed to realize was that they were actually complaining against God, because it was God who had been their provider. This is something that Moses clearly understood, because when he heard their complaints, the first thing he did was turn to God for help. And in doing so, Moses gave the Israelites - and now us - an example of what to do when we have problems: we go to God for help.
For some reason, we tend to struggle with this idea though - don’t we? All-too-often, just like the Israelites, we focus on our challenging situations with our human eyes, and not with eyes of faith. And that leads us to complaining.
Here's what we can never forget: the same miracle-working God that led the Israelites out of Egypt, is still around today, working miracles in our lives as well. Our challenge is to keep from letting grumbling and complaining blind us from seeing what God IS doing because we're so focused on what He's NOT doing. I think complaining is one of those sins that we are willing to let go unchecked in our lives because we're too focused on other sins that seem more important to us - sins like lust, or lying, or other "sins of the flesh". But the truth is, having a complaining spirit is equally offensive to God because it communicates our lack of trust that He is the God He claims to be.
So today, let's take time to ask God to remove any hint of a complaining spirit that we might have in us. Instead, let's ask Him to give us a joy in His provision for us, and take time to thank Him for all He has provided.