* Don’t respond to crisis with complaining
Trapped against the sea, the Israelites faced the Egyptian army sweeping in for the kill. The Israelites thought they were doomed. After watching God’s powerful hand deliver them from Egypt, their only response was fear, whining, and despair. Where was their trust in God? Israel had to learn from repeated experience that God was able to provide for them. God has preserved these examples in the Bible so that we can learn to trust him the first time. By focusing on God’s faithfulness in the past, we can face crisis with confidence rather than with fear and complaining. (NLT)
Exodus 14:10-11 – As Pharaoh and his army approached, the people of Israel could see them in the distance, marching toward them. The people began to panic, and they cried out to the Lord for help.
Then they turned against Moses and complained, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? Why did you make us leave?
* Complaining a response to stress
It happened again. As the Israelites encountered danger, shortages, and inconvenience, they complained bitterly and longed to be back in Egypt. But as always, God provided for their needs. Difficult circumstances often lead to stress, and complaining is a natural response. The Israelites didn’t really want to be back in Egypt; they just wanted life to get a little easier. In the pressure of the moment, they could not focus on the cause of their stress (in this case, lack of trust in God); they could only think about the quickest way of escape. When pressure comes your way, resist the temptation to make a quick escape. Instead, focus on God’s power and wisdom to help you deal with the cause of your stress. (NLT)
Exodus 16:2-3 – There, too, the whole community of Israel spoke bitterly against Moses and Aaron. “Oh, that we were back in Egypt,” they moaned. “It would have been better if the Lord had killed us there! At least there we had plenty to eat. But now you have brought us into the desert to starve us to death.”
* Pray instead of complaining
Again the people complained about their problem instead of praying. Some problems can be solved by careful thought or by rearranging our priorities. Some can be solved by discussion and good counsel. But some problems can be solved only by prayer. We should make a determined effort to pray when we feel like complaining because complaining only raises our level of stress. Prayer quiets our thoughts and emotions and prepares us to listen. (NLT)
Exodus 17:2 – So once more the people grumbled and complained to Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded. “Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you arguing with me? And why are you testing the Lord?”
* Take your complaining to God
The Israelites complained, and then Moses complained. But God responded positively to Moses and negatively to the rest of the people. Why? The people complained to one another, and nothing was accomplished. Moses took his complaint to God, who could solve any problem. Many of us are good at complaining to each other. We need to learn to take our problems to the One who can do something about them. (NLT)
Numbers 11:1,6-15 – The people soon began to complain to the Lord about their hardships; and when the Lord heard them, his anger blazed against them. Fire from the Lord raged among them and destroyed the outskirts of the camp.
But now our appetites are gone, and day after day we have nothing to eat but this manna!” The manna looked like small coriander seeds, pale yellow in color. the people gathered it from the ground and made flour by grinding it with hand mills or pounding it in mortars. Then they boiled it in a pot and made it into flat cakes. These cakes tasted like they had been cooked in olive oil. The manna came down on the camp with the dew during the night.
Moses heard all the families standing in front of their tents weeping, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so miserably? what did I do to deserve the burden of people like this? Are they my children? am I their father? Is that why you have told me to carry them in my arms–like a nurse carries a baby–to the land you swore to give their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep complaining and saying, ‘Give us meat!’ I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! I’d rather you killed me than treat me like this. Please spare me this misery!”
* David resolved to keep his tongue from sin; that is, he decided not to complain to other people about God’s treatment of him. David certainly had reason to complain. David was the anointed king of Israel, but he had to wait many years before taking the throne. Then one of his sons tried to kill him and become king instead. But when David could not keep still any longer, he took his complaints directly to God. We all have complaints about our job, money, or situation, but complaining to others may make them think that God cannot take care of us. It may also look as if we blame God for our troubles. Instead, like David, we should take our complaints directly to God. (NLT)
Psalm 39:1-3 – I said to myself, “I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will curb my tongue when the ungodly are around me.” But as I stood there in silence–not even speaking of good things–the turmoil within me grew to the bursting point. My thoughts grew hot within me and began to burn, igniting a fire of words.
* Complaining comes from forgetting what we have
Every morning the Israelites drew back their tent doors and witnessed a miracle. Covering the ground was pale yellow, fluffy manna–food from heaven. But soon that wasn’t enough. Feeling it was their right to have more, they forgot what they already had. They didn’t ask God to fill their need; instead, they demanded meat, and they stopped trusting God to care for them. “Give us meat!” they complained to Moses as they reminisced about the good food they had in Egypt. God gave them what they asked for, but they paid dearly for it when a plague struck the camp. When you ask God for something, he may grant your request. But if you approach him with a sinful attitude, getting what you want may prove costly. (NLT)
Numbers 11:4-5 – Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt, and the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember all the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic that we wanted. But now our appetites are gone, and day after day we have nothing to eat but this manna!”
* Complaining erodes our faith in God
Just one day after Korah and his followers were executed for grumbling and complaining against God, the Israelites started all over with more muttering and complaining. Their negative attitude only caused them to rebel even more and to bring about even greater trouble. It eroded their faith in God and encouraged thoughts of giving up and turning back. The path to open rebellion against God begins with dissatisfaction and skepticism, then moves to grumbling about both God and present circumstances. Next come bitterness and resentment, followed finally by rebellion and open hostility. If you are often dissatisfied, skeptical, complaining, or bitter-beware! These attitudes lead to rebellion and separation from God. Any choice to side against God is a step in the direction of letting go of him completely and making your own way through life. (NLT)
Numbers 16:41 – But the very next morning the whole community began muttering again against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You two have killed the Lord’s people”
* Don’t complain about problems without doing something about them
Israel mourned, and sorrow gripped the nation for 20 years. The Ark was put away like an unwanted box in an attic, and it seemed as if the Lord had abandoned his people. Samuel, now a grown man, roused them to action by saying that if they were truly sorry, they should do something about it. How easy it is for us to complain about our problems, even to God, while we refuse to act, change, and do what he requires. We don’t even take the advice he has already given us. Do you ever feel as if God has abandoned you? Check to see if there is anything he has already told you to do. You may not receive new guidance from God until you have acted on his previous directions. (NLT)
1 Samuel 7:2-3 – The Ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for a long time–twenty years in all. During that time, all Israel mourned because it seemed that the Lord had abandoned them.
Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.”
* Temper complaining with words of joy
Rehoboam must have gotten an unbalanced picture of leadership from his father, Solomon. Apparently Rehoboam saw only the difficulty of leading the nation, not the opportunities. He mentioned only the harsher aspects of Solomon’s rule, and he himself decided to be very harsh toward the people. As you discuss your responsibilities with your children, be sure that you temper words of complaint with words of joy. Otherwise you may sour their attitudes toward the work you do and those you serve. (NLT)
2 Chronicles 10:14 – and followed the counsel of his younger advisers. He told the people, “My father was harsh on you, but I’ll be even harsher! My father used whips on you, but I’ll use scorpions!”
* Why is complaining so harmful?
Why are you complaining and arguing so harmful? If all that people know about a church is that its members constantly argue, complain, and gossip, they get a false impression of Christ and the Good News. Belief in Christ should unite those who trust him. If your church is always complaining and arguing, it lacks the unifying power of Jesus Christ. Stop arguing with other Christians or complaining about people and conditions within the church and let the world see Christ. (NLT)
Philippians 2:14-16 – In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine brightly before them. Hold tightly to the word of life, so that when Christ returns, I will be proud that I did not lose the race and that my work was not useless.
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