Quit Complaining…or Die.

woman-with-headacheAdults whine too.

Life sucks. Why can’t I have a bigger house? Why does the policeman always pull me over? I need more time to myself. My kids don’t appreciate me enough. My husband doesn’t tell me he loves me. Why can’t things be the way they used to be? Why is gas so expensive!? Why does no one help me when I need it? The president is ruining our way of life! I feel unhappy.

I don’t usually think of grown-ups complaining, but we do it as much as my tantrum-throwing toddler. Our adult version of whining often masquerades behind a “mood.” A pervasive bad feeling that sits in our gut and spoils our enjoyment with life. A gripe props up bitterness. A whine fuels depression. A complaint motivates  a bad temper. A grumble spoon-feeds heartache.

A lethal habit

The Israelites were master complainers. “Oh, they grumble on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, grumble on Wednesday too! Grumble on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, grumble the whole week through!” is how a song from my childhood went. Their default was to find something they didn’t like and then talk about it. Murmuring is how the King James Bible words it.

A bit of history in Paul’s words.

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.

Their bodies were scattered over the desert!  What the? What happened?

God led the descendants of his special friend, Abraham, out of brutal slavery in Egypt to the land he had promised them, Caanan (today, Israel). Literally, they followed Him in the form of a cloud through the Red Sea, on dry ground. When food ran low, God provided heavenly bread that appeared overnight outside their doors, and poultry that were easily caught and cooked. When water was scarce,  God provided from the rocks around them. Everyday they saw the mysterious glory of God Himself settle on the tabernacle in the middle of their settlement. Yet, all the people who left Egypt never made it to Caanan. They died in the desert, save a few faithful. God killed them. Is He a cosmic turn-coat, or was something sinister occurring in these people that had to be ruthlessly destroyed?

Back to Paul’s history lesson in 1 Corinthains.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us…  Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.”We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

In spite of being given freedom, daily meat and bread, water and guidance by the visible presence of God, they murmured. They spoke sour words that revealed the wickedness in their hearts. And it wasn’t a one-time offense. The Israelites had developed an automatic and comfortable response to their life’s circumstances – they complained. No matter what God did for them ,they always wanted more. No matter the gift, they were never content. And over time, God killed them for it.

Look again at Paul’s summation in  1 Corinthians. False religion, sexual promiscuity and bossing God around like a personal slave  are on the same par with complaining. All are equally disgusting to our good God. They are all death-traps.

God is ruthless in His pursuit of our good. We must recognize that sometimes God has the right to be pissed off that we aren’t grateful for His gifts. He knows that the way of the complainer is the way of death.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Cor 10:11-12

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