Should We Complain?

“And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord…” Numbers 11:1

    The better things get, the more our children complain. There is nothing like a vacation to bring out their worst. "The beach is too sandy." "I'm bored!" "Why won't Mickey Mouse talk to me?" I am always struck by how many tears I see at the happiest place on earth.

    God's chosen people weren't much different. When the people of Israel were rescued from slavery in Egypt and miraculously fed with manna from heaven, they began to complain. When God made flocks of birds essentially land in their pots each night for dinner, they grumbled about the delicious meals they once ate in captivity. (Exodus 16) The better things got, the more they complained.

    The Lord was not pleased with their response to His provision. In this week's passage, His fire "burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp." Their selfish complaining invited His wrath.

    We aren't much different than them or our children in terms of our response to our Heavenly Father. We are richly blessed, but we often act like we deserve better. Even as God provides, we grumble about who has more and why we don't have that one more thing that will make our life complete. The better things get, the more we complain.

    How does God react to our complaining? To answer this question, we first have to answer another: Are all complaints created equally?

    Read Psalm 142. This passage provides a very different take on heaven's view of our complaints. Throughout the Psalms we see moments of lament where writers pour out their hearts over anger (Psalm 140), disappointment (Psalm 74), depression (Psalm 88), fear (Psalm 69) or sorrow (Psalm 137).

    What's the difference between the psalmists' and the Israelites' complaints? We need to distinguish between cries and complaints. Our God knows we will face pain, heartache and trouble in this life. Like any good father, He longs to have His children reach out to Him for comfort. BUT, like any good father, He also has no patience with spoiled rotten children complaining about the very comforts He provides.

    Are your responses toward God cries or complaints? Are you reaching out for His comfort or shaking your fist at His provision? To one, He will grant mercy; to the other, wrath. Which one are you in line to receive?

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