September 13, 2012

Why We Complain

I read the books of Exodus and Numbers together in about 6 days.  I have never read through them that quickly before, and I was left absolutely astonished by the Israelites lack of faith and their quickness to forget the goodness of God.  I know all the stories, but there was something about taking the time to read it all consecutively, that helped me grasp the reality of how many times God provided for the children of Israel in a miraculous way, but then THE VERY NEXT DAY, they were once again wailing to Moses about how he had brought them from the wonderful land of Egypt to die in the barren wilderness.  How quickly they forgot the hardships of Egypt!  Even more tragic, was how quickly they forgot the goodness and faithfulness of God.

So, you already know what's coming, don't you?  We are the same!!!  It smacked me once again right between the eyes as I was reading through these books.  God will do something for me, and within an hour, I begin to wonder how I am ever going to manage this problem or handle this situation or fix this dilemma.   Why do I - why do we - do this over and over again?

In my life, I have noticed that I forget to look for and see God's goodness in the little things in my life.  I am so busy waiting for him to work in a big miraculous way that I forget to see Him in the every day little things.  Without God, I would not have the beautiful sunshine, or the enjoyment of reading a book with my kiddos, or the convenience of an oven to cook my food in.  When we begin to look at the little gifts God gives us every single day, we realize we have nothing worth complaining about.

I have also realized that, just like the children of Israel, I often remember things differently from what they really were.  I remember the good of all the past experiences but not the effort that came with it.  If it wasn't so sad, it would be almost humorous reading the memories that the Israelites had of Egypt.  They made it sound like a wonderful place to be instead of the place bondage that it had truly become.  I cannot laugh at them though because I do the same thing.  I forget all too quickly the problems or pain that came along with certain experiences. Not that we do not need those times.  They grow us and stretch us and prepare us for what is ahead, but we must be careful to remember that God's goodness and faithfulness is with us in every situation.

At the root of all complaining is the sin of selfishness, and as much as I hate to admit it, I am an extremely selfish person.  When I begin to look at myself and my circumstances, I can always find something to complain about.  It is only when I look at the character of God and the example of His Son Jesus that I begin to uncover the extraordinary graces and mercies that I have been blessed with.  It is only when I begin to reach out and serve others that I realize how unbelievably blessed I am.  The more I reach out in love to others, the more I realize there is always someone who is hurting more than I am, who has a harder story than I do. Many times, it is those people who put me to shame because they are able to find good in the difficult things God has placed in their lives.  

After reading the stories of the children of Israel, I challenged myself to go an entire day without complaining.  It was difficult!!!  It becomes such a habit that is easy to fall into.  To chase away my complaining, I found myself continually asking, "What good thing in this can I thank God for?"  It's amazing how the day changed once my focus changed.  I think I'll try it again tomorrow! :)

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