If you've ever seen the movie The Prince of Egypt, or read any of Exodus in the Bible, you will remember that at the end of the movie (based on the Bible) that God miraculously opens up the Red Sea for all of Israel to cross over to escape the pursuing Egyptians. (No doubt the Egyptians are still smarting over that one) It's an amazing story of redemption and salvation.
What isn't as familiar is what happens next. As the Israelites begin life after slavery (a first for all of them but Moses), they quickly remember (and begin complaining about) that the desert doesn't have food and water in abundance-especially for several million people!
God has a solution for this, as usual. It's to provide what is later called manna. A small honey-flavored wafer, this manna would appear each morning to provide enough food for each person who took the time to gather it. Oh, and God provided Quail for meat each evening. I love chicken and biscuits too!
The reason I share it with you is that as I read this recently I saw something amazing. The LORD did all of this after they complained to Moses about it.
God showed His grace and mercy here. (no doubt in part because of Moses' prayer) He showed grace in giving them something they didn't deserve. (who wants to give a bratty kid a piece of candy who has complained all day about how cruel you are for not letting him eat any?)
God showed his mercy in not punishing them for their sin of complaining. In fact, the LORD made it clear that when they complained to Moses they were actually complaining about the LORD!
"The LORD will give you meat to eat in the evening and bread in the morning, for he has heard all your complaints against him. Yes, your complaints are against the LORD, not against us (Moses, leaders)." Exodus 16:8 NLT (italics mine)
That hit me like never before. Whenever I complain about anything, it's like I'm in God's court, where He can hear everything I'm saying to my buddy, and I start complaining about all the troubles and trials and heartaches I'm dealing with right now.
Now I'm complaining in front of the all-powerful, all-good God. He is able to do anything He wants to. He is good so He wants to bless me (His child) more than the best father does. I'm not just complaining in front of God.
I'm complaining to God.
I deserve His rebuke and discipline. But if I learn anything from this passage in Exodus, it seems that God has (and will likely do it again) bless me with grace and mercy in spite of my self-centered complaining.
What's the antidote to complaining? Gratitude. I need to be more aware of God's blessings and thank Him for them all the time.
So I'm praying that God will help me be more thankful and not complain anymore. How about you?
"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." --Apostle Paul, Phil 2:14-15 NIV