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A Word to Chronic Complainers (Like Me)

(Photo Credit: @omarprestwich)

I can’t stand people who complain. I’m not sure about you, but I have such a low tolerance for complainers. I avoid them at all cost. Complainers can be so naggy, so petty, and just plain annoying. They just suck the air out of a room and can leave you feeling exhausted and empty. I can’t stand complainers. Now, I hope you see what I was doing there…complaining about complainers.

Complaining is a universal problem. I do it. You do it. Our neighbor does it. Humanity has been contaminated with complaining and not many are seeking a remedy. We only seek a place to direct our complaints and a person to take the blame for why I don’t have _____, I don’t feel _____, I can’t get _______, or just because. We all have a person who takes on the brunt of our complaints. Maybe it is a close friend, a spouse, or even a complete stranger on the commute to work. We complain a lot, in a lot of different places, to a lot of different people, under our breath, out loud, and sometimes in writing.

Speaking of writing, we see this reality of complaining right in the beginning pages of the Bible. In Genesis 3, not long after everything falls apart because of sin, Adam and Eve begin complaining to God setting all of humanity on the cycle of complaining. God’s people are no exclusion. Over and over we see the children of God complaining to God, but it’s more than this. In Exodus 15-17, God’s people found themselves free from their captors in Egypt but not free from the captor of complaining. They were hungry. They were thirsty. There was no food or water. They were not happy. Have you been there before?

In Exodus 15, we are told the people grumbled against Moses. Moses, their fearless leader, found himself the target of their hangry tantrums even to the point where they were going to kill him. Moses turns and asks the people a question, “For what are we, that you grumble against us?” In other words, your beef is not with me (no pun intended). “Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.” Moses says to the people, “You may be complaining to me, but you are complaining about God.”

All complaining is first and foremost about God. Every time you and I complain, we are stating something about God and His failure to do what we want Him to do, to give us what we want Him to give us, or to make our lives as comfortable as we think He ought to make it. “God, if you just gave me a little more money, a better spouse, this house, this car, this diagnosis, this spouse, if things just went back to the way they used to be then it would all be better. God, are you with me or not?” This is the question at the heart of every complainer: “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7).

So what is the remedy for this complaining? I haven’t met anyone who loves being a complainer (although some love to complain). In Exodus, God gives Moses two sticks. While reading, we may be expecting a whoopin’ is coming. However, we learn something about God. He gives grace to the grumblers. Instead of killing the complainers, God gives Moses a log (a tree) to throw in the water to make it sweet. He rains down bread from Heaven. Then, at Horeb, He tells Moses to strike not the people, but the rock to provide water. God is good to those who are terribly bad, even the worst of complainers.

That is good news…atleast to me. I am a chronic complainer. I am in need of God’s grace. I need to trust God gives the sweet water through the tree of Jesus Christ, His cross, His death for all my careless complaints. I need to trust the God who strikes not me, but His Son, to provide His sweet salvation. You see, God has provided us in our greatest need. We deserve to starve. We deserve to die. However, He has made a way through His Son that we get the good stuff. We get eternal life. We get the promise of His provision. We have everything we need in Him.

I really hope you see with me the problem with our complaining. The world would be a lot better with a lot fewer complainers. More than that, the world would be a lot better place with people who trusted the Lord, were satisfied with His provision, and told others of His goodness.

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