Grumbling, Complaining, and Discontentment

“…Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD.” Exodus 16:8 

My journey to the cross continues as God gently and with much love continues to reveal places in my heart that need exposing. It’s not easy to see those places, those sins that nailed Christ to the Cross. It’s not easy to face sins that were hidden and unknown to us. Unknown to us until we began praying that God would show us. Unknown because often times we’d rather not know! As I see the truth of my weaknesses and sin I am all the more grateful for the cross, for Christ.

grumbleThrough various avenues God most recently showed me the sin of grumbling. Complaining. How it is being dissatisfied with where God has us or what He has given us. Let me explain…

The Israelites had been wandering in the desert for some time. They tired of eating manna. It didn’t matter that God had kept them well fed. That He had provided daily for them. All they could see at that moment was manna and they grumbled. They complained about what God was providing them. They were dissatisfied with their current circumstances.

In 1 Corinthians 10:5-7 we are told that God was not pleased with them when they grumbled. We are reminded to not crave evil things or be idolaters. Were the Israelites desire for something other than manna sin? No, it was not the desire for something else to eat that was wrong. What God was displeased with was their dissatisfaction with God Himself. It was their attitude. In essences what they were saying was, “We don’t like what you are giving us, we want something different.” Or “We do not like how you have decided to supply our need for food. We would rather go back to slavery so we could eat a variety of other foods.” It wasn’t just that they were getting tired of what God was providing but they didn’t like where God had them. I mean seriously, they were in a desert! It was hot, dry and all they could see ahead was more desert!

So they grumbled against God. They hated the desert. They would prefer to go back to Egypt.

Oh how like the Israelites we are! I see much of my own life and heart here. Our life can seem like a desert at times.1 Corinthians 10:10 says that the Israelites are to be an example to us. We are to be reminded that those who grumble do not please God and will be judged.

Mike Wilkerson says in his book Redemption that “their desire wasn’t simply for a daily fill of bread. That was merely a thin cover over a bottomless pit of desire to have life on their terms.” 1 How often am I not pleased with my current circumstances and grumble against God?

Oh at first it may not seem like I am complaining against God when I am expressing my dissatisfaction with how things are. It may seem like I am merely expressing concern over current circumstances and suggesting how they could be better. In my own mind I might just be expressing my …. my what? Frustration? Dissatisfaction? Discontentment? Let’s be honest, I am grumbling against God. I am saying to God, “ I don’t really like where you have me right now.”

I have found myself saying or hearing others say…

“I don’t like this ministry I am serving in, I could do something more. Something bigger. Better.”
“I do not like the fact that God seems to have me attending Saturday night Church. I would prefer a different service.”
“I just want to go back to worshipping with my friends. The people I know and that know me.”
“ I feel so isolated here….”
“I don’t like my current job. I’d rather be serving God.”

On the surface these may not seem so bad but at the heart of it we are saying to God, “I don’t like what you have for me in this place.” Philippians 2:14 says “Do all things without grumbling or disputing;” Why? “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 who you appear as lights in the world,” (vs 15)

Please note that I am not speaking of those times when God grows within us what some call a “holy” discontent that moves us onward and upward in our journey to know God or serve Him. I am speaking of those times when we sit around whining and complaining to others, ourselves and ultimately to God because we just don’t like where we are or what God is providing for us. This is sin. This is discontentment. This is grumbling.

There is so much more to share but for now let us just sit here and ask God to reveal those area’s in our lives where we have a great temptation to grumble. Confess those places you find yourselves in discontentment. I love that in the midst of Paul sharing about grumbling in 1 Corinthians 10 that he tells us in verse 13 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man ; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” No matter where God has you, no matter what you feel you may be lacking, He promises that you can endure. You do not have to sin and give in to temptation.

Trust Him. Rest in His perfect purposes. His perfect timing. For He is faithful.

What about you, do you find yourself grumbling? Are you content with where God has you in this season of your life? What have you learned in those moments that are hard seasons of life?

I wrote a follow up to this post entitled Grumbling, Anger and the Kingdom of Me.

 1 Wilkerson, Mike. Redemption (Foreword by Mark Driscoll): Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry (Re:Lit) Crossway Publishers 2011

Photo used courtesy of freedigitalphoto and Stuart Miles


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  1. Beautiful words of truth. How easy it is to focus on what we don't have instead of what we have.

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