“How long O Lord, how long!?” We are a people who are short on patience and even shorter on memories of the wonderful things God has done. Even as we greet each other these days, the first words we might utter are not about a God who loves us… it often includes the words “how long?” or words that would likely require a $1 payment to the swear jar.
If it makes it easier to swallow, history is on our side. Our Biblical story depicts God’s people as being ungrateful and quick to raise complaints; why God abandoned them, why they were hungry, thirsty, tired, or oppressed… This was happening while they still called themselves a “blessed” people!
When we grumble or complain, it shows our disconnection from a living God. A complaining spirit leads to fighting and quarrelling because complaints come from unfulfilled desires, which leads to envy and strife. While it is not wrong to complain to God, it is wrong to complain about God. If we must complain, let it be to God about our individual sinfulness so that he will forgive, cleanse, strengthen us and give us a new heart that rejoices rather than complains.
The Greek word translated “complainer” means literally “one who is discontented with his lot in life.” It is akin to the word grumbler. Complaining is not a fruit of the Spirit and, in fact, is detrimental to the peace, joy, and patience that come from the Spirit. Complaining is destructive and debilitating personally and only serves to make our witness to the world more difficult. Who, for instance, would be attracted to a people who are dissatisfied with life and who continually grumble and complain?
Take a moment and breathe a collective sigh… the current situation in our world has been (even, currently is) brutal. “How long, O Lord!” But, then, stop.
Render up some honest, heartfelt, thanks to God our blessings. Recollect the last time you thanked God for a warm bed, a good meal, a smile from a friend, a productive day at work or school… We can stop our grumbling long enough to be a people of praise!
I invite you to celebrate Easter and the victory over that which kills sin, death, fear of the grave, and then brings us to celebrate life among the living. We can be a people who remember each new day as blessing and who proclaim these blessings to our God and our world!
Join me in celebration of a generous and gracious God!