Day 10 (Grumbling)

The internet’s most famous grumpy cat (pictured above) died in 2019.  Her permanently frowny face made us all smile and was featured in countless memes.  We could all identify with grumpy cat whenever we were having a bad day. 

But her frowny face was the result of feline dwarfism.  What’s your excuse?

There are many different terms for it – complaining, whining, belly-aching, grumbling.  And for some people it’s an art form.  Complaining becomes a part of the fabric of life at a very early age.  Some of us have become so habitual about it, we don’t even realize we’re doing it anymore, despite the fact it doesn’t really ever make the situation better. 

We grumble about the slow driver in front of us.  We grumble if our order isn’t brought to our table soon enough.  We grumble when there’s no rain; we grumble when we get a lot of rain. 

Is there anything people like us DON’T grumble about?  How can we get from griping to gladness?   During this 30 days of prayer and purpose, that’s one thing I’d like to change in my life.  How about you?

Read Exodus 16.

God’s OT people have been in the desert for a month.  It’s been just thirty days since they witnessed the ten terrible plagues and God’s supernatural intervention to free them from Egyptian slavery.  It’s been just thirty days since they saw the waters of the Red Sea peeled back and they walked through on dry sand.  It’s been just thirty days since they’ve witnessed Yahweh totally wipe out a trained army coming to kill them.  

Only thirty days….

Then, the people of Israel ran out of food.  And all hell breaks lose… well… not literally.  But as soon as their tummies rumbled, their voices grumbled.  

How many parents know that sound?

In fact, the word for grumble is mentioned no less than eight times in Exodus 16.  And rather than lash out at them for whining and complaining, the Lord graciously provides manna from heaven to satiate the people’s hunger.  But immediately –even after this incredible provision– in the very next chapter, the people grumble again.  This time because they have no fresh water.  They even start fighting with Moses.

Read Exodus 17.   

When they were hungry the said “If only we had died 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.”  When they were thirsty they said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?  They act like little children complaining to mom when she hands them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but didn’t cut off the crusts or cut the sandwich into little triangles.  What a foolish complaint to have when you’re hungry and a plate of food has just been served up. 

You see, the Israelites remind us that grumbling is a perception problem.  They were looking back at their past, a past filled with forced labor.  Some of them were still healing from the damage of an Egyptian whip.  They were looking back at their misery of making bricks without straw and the days when their baby boys were thrown into the Nile River.  But now they were seeing all that misery as “the good ol’ days?”

Now that is a problem!  It’s a perception problem.  It’s something along the lines of “selective amnesia.

I’ve noticed this is a common malady.  It happens in marriage all the time.  Husbands and wives know all about selective amnesia, don’t we?  We remember what we WANT to remember.  We look at our spouse in a moment of irritation and say, “you NEVER…  you ALWAYS…” and then we state our complaint.

And that’s what grumbling does – grumbling distorts our perception of the facts.  Even though there is more than enough good in a situation, grumbling focuses on the negative. 

Even though God had provided everything possible, grumbling caused the Israelites to say to God–What have you done for me lately?

REST IN PEACE, Grumpy Cat. 

Some meditation questions:

  • What systemic problems does grumbling cause in your family?  What about your church?
  • How can you take ownership of your grumpiness?

Prayer Starter:

Lord God, heavenly Father, Sunday after Sunday I come to church and hear the message of the cross—how You gave up Your Son to save a sinner like me.  In worship I receive forgiveness from Christ, Himself.  And then I return to my daily life and so easily engage in selective amnesia.  I forget what miraculous things You have given me.  I succumb to dissatisfaction and I complain about trivial worldly things and circumstances.  This does nothing to glorify you, Lord, and for this I am sorry. 

Help me grow weary of the comforts of this world that too easily seduce me into believing that I can’t live without them. From time to time, Lord, give me hardship so that I might learn ever more that you are my strength.  Turn my grumbling into gladness at the thought of how You walk with me even through the dark valley of the shadow of death. 

Lord, I can try to command my grumbling to stop.  But I know it will happen again.  Thank you for loving me even when I do complain.  I deserve your punishment but You invite me into Your house and feed me with manna from heaven—the very body and blood of Jesus.   Like a little child who can’t even make himself a sandwich yet dares to complain that crusts haven’t been trimmed just so, I also, so easily forget to rejoice in the grace that You have shown me by loving me through Jesus Christ.    

Lord, thank You for not just commanding me to stop doing what my sinful flesh does by nature.  For the benefit of a grumbler like me, Jesus said –  “IT IS FINISHED.”  Give me grace to be satisfied with that. 

 In Jesus’ name.  Amen

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