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Grumble. None of us do it, right? Certainly not me. And when I read in the Old Testament, I can’t believe how those Israelites continued to grumble when God took them out of Egypt! He revealed His power to them over and over again, and they kept forgetting to be grateful! Tsk, tsk. I wouldn’t have responded the same way. When I’m going through a hard time, I don’t grumble…or do I?

My family had been looking to buy a house for years. Yes, years. My husband, children and I spent many Saturdays looking at various houses that popped up on the market, with our ever-patient real estate agent, Bill. We prayed that God would provide. Then one day he did! The one. We put an offer in and to our excitement and gratitude it was accepted. And even the story about that is enough to know God provides against all odds!

Then began the craziness of quickly finishing our own home to sell. To say it was a whirlwind few weeks would be an understatement. To add to the humor, I was eight and a half months pregnant, homeschooling, doing home renovations, packing and quickly cleaning and sprinting out our home for showings.  The week before baby number 4 arrived we had an accepted offer. On the way back from the hospital with our new baby we did a final walk through of our new home, and the following day we not only had to leave our house for the inspection but we closed on our new home…and then spent the next 6 weeks packing up and moving.

Looking back at the time I wish I could say I was cool, calm and collected. Most days on the outside I may have looked that way, but on the inside, I was completely overwhelmed. And there were definitely times I just straight up grumbled and lost patience with those around me for not easing the load.

But God, being the ever so merciful Father He is, reminded me of those Israelites. And how I’m not that different. In fact, I’m a little worse. Just like the Israelites had been praying for years to be taken out of Egypt, my family had been praying for a new home. And God provided in ways that showed His power. He showed His timing is perfect, although not necessarily how we would have chosen had we written the script. In terms of scale, they had it much harder. They had to leave in the middle of the night, be chased by an army who wanted to enslave them again, wander in the wilderness for decades, live in tents, go without water and food at times. Surely if anyone had a reason to grumble, it was them.

Despite all of the reasons they may have thought they had to grumble, God would not have it. Throughout the book of Numbers God shows His mercy and patience to the Israelites for their grumbling. But the final straw came in chapter 14 when God responded to their grumbling by saying:

“How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me.”
Numbers 14:27

God continues to tell them they will not be allowed to enter the promised land because of their grumbling.


Our Reasons For Grumbling

God is pretty emphatic about his disdain for grumbling. We say we are just voicing our struggles, or being discontent, or simply being honest with how we feel. But God calls it grumbling. Philippians 2:14-15 says:

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing;
so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent,
children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked
and perverse generation,
among whom you appear as lights in the world…”

The truth is, the world is watching our reaction to hard things. Our children are watching.

But what if things genuinely are difficult?
And we feel fearful, or overwhelmed? Should we just stifle these feelings and pretend we have no emotions? Are emotions insignificant in the face of hardship? If God doesn’t want us to grumble, yet He made us creatures with emotions, what should our response be? We automatically say thankfulness. And of course, that is the right answer. In fact, as soon as we hear we should respond in thankfulness, we get our notebooks out and start writing down all the things we are thankful for. Our husbands, our kids, our health, our church, school, parents. And of course, we should be thankful for all these things and more.

Yet recognizing all that we are thankful for doesn’t negate the things that are hard. That’s because in our quest to be thankful for things, we bypass the One we are thankful to. Any unbeliever can look at their life and recognize the good things they have going for them. They can even be grateful. Yet there was a reason God wanted the Israelites (and us) to be grateful- because God was their Father and He rescued them from captivity. He showed His incredible might and love for them, rendering one of the most powerful people on earth powerless against His might. They thought that their grumbling was just against Moses and Aaron, but it was actually against God. They had forgotten every plague against the Egyptians, the angel passing over their homes to kill the firstborn male Egyptians, the parting of the sea, His ultimate protection and love. It was as though they didn’t know Him. They loved their comfortable, predictable lives. And they forgot who was fighting for them.


Coming To Our Father

Our Bible study is currently going through the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah continues to amaze me with how he responds to hardship. He prays. Nehemiah is a servant to the king of Persia when he hears that the wall in Jerusalem is in terrible shape. His response? He prays.  Before speaking with the king about his dilemma- he prays. When faced with adversity and adversaries- he prays. When he hears how his Jewish brothers were oppressing each other and he wants to be an example to them- he tells them to fear God and he prays.

What drives Nehemiah to pray? He knows God. He knows who is in control and who will help them. He remembers all God has done for His people and for himself. And knowing God, makes his automatic response, prayer.

Has God not done the same for me? He has chosen me as His child, He has saved me. He has redeemed me through the blood of Christ, and offered forgiveness for my sins according to the riches of His grace. He has rescued me from the domain of darkness and delivered me to the kingdom of His beloved Son. He has given me His Spirit to comfort, lead, convict, reassure, remind, pray, produce fruit. God’s grace has been lavish on me.

So when I go to Him in the midst of great trials, I don’t stifle my feelings. I go to Him, knowing He is my great and powerful Father who cares for my soul and provide the strength I need to not only get through it, but glorify Him in it. He will provide abundantly beyond all that I ask or think according to His power. I don’t have to pretend. I can come to Him because I know Him. I know who He is and what He has done. And from that I can come to Him in thankfulness and rest that He has every part of my life under His care and protection.