Complain and You May Doubt God’s Presence

Feel like complaining? You’re not alone. At times, we all lean toward the grumbling side of life.

Complaining Makes us Doubt God's Presence

(Photo: phase4, via Vivozoom)

In those moments when I most want to complain, I find myself doubting if God is with me or not.

The Lord’s People Complained Long Ago

Barely a month out of Egypt, God’s people began to complain to Moses at Rephidim, figuring Moses had led them out of slavery to kill them all with thirst. So Moses renamed the spot Meribah, meaning “quarreling,” and Massah, meaning “testing”—for there they tested the Lord.

To answer the Israelites’ grumblings, the Lord told Moses, “I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” (Exodus 17:6).

In spite of the Israelites’ tendencies to complain, the Lord repeatedly provided for them fresh water, fresh meat, manna from heaven, and even a day to rest.

Nothing ousts the sense of God’s presence so thoroughly as the soul’s dialogues with itself—when these [dialogues] are grumblings. —Friedrich von Hugel

Sinai Wilderness

(Photo: The Sinai Wilderness might make the best of us complain. By Ian Sewell, via Wikimedia Commons)

We read these accounts of the Hebrews’ complaints and shake our heads at their lack of faith. Why would they suppose the Almighty redeemed them from Egypt just to let them die in the wilderness?

And yet how many times do we waffle between faith and fear in the course of one day—much less a month?

The Lord’s People Complain Today Too

The question from the Hebrews’ parched tongues often sums up our own expectations: “Is the LORD among us, or not?” (Exodus 17:7).

But put this assumption to logic:

  • Must God really follow our rules? Not at all.
  • Do our circumstances prove God’s faithfulness? No again.
  • Do circumstances occur to prove our own faithfulness? Yep. Now we’re talking (see Philippians 4:11-13).

We put God to the test when we get these backward.

God’s presence among us doesn’t always prove itself by our standards. The same Lord who gave the Israelites water from the rock also promises us, without exception, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20; see also 1 Corinthians 10:4).

Question: What circumstances most make you most want to complain? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Adapted from Wayne Stiles, Going Places with God: A Devotional Journey Through the Lands and Lessons of Christ (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2006), p. 67. Used by permission.

Come to the Holy Land with Wayne Stiles!
Get Your E-book!Get Encouraged the Easy Way!

When you subscribe to my blog, I’ll immediately send you my new e-book, Grow Strong: 30 Devotions to Deepen Your Christian Life. You'll also receive fresh content each time I post.

Click Here for your e-book and FREE updates!

Get more info ->>>

  • Sheila

    The one thing I find that I might complain about, because I do not understand fully, Gods timing in things, IS  His timing!! I don’t like to complain, I know it does not please Father God, when we do as a people! But timing is important, and its something He controls, not us, and it all works out for His glory when it comes according to  HIS will and way! Just sometimes the wait can seem unbearably long…………..Thank you Jesus, for your love and mercy, and grace, long suffering and patience, Kindness, and gentleness!! And yes, sometimes that correction that brings conviction to our hearts…..help me not to complain about your timing in things Lord!! YOUR will be done.

    • http://www.waynestiles.com/ Wayne Stiles

       Hi, Sheila. No doubt, waiting on God may be the hardest part of the Christian life. I have a podcast on it here that might encourage you: http://www.waynestiles.com/waiting-on-god/ Thanks for your comment.

      • Joel

        Thanks, Wayne. An afterthought: I wonder what happened to the British “stiff upper lip,” their renown stoicism in the face of difficulties. It seems to be a thing of the past.

        • Joel

          Oops – wrong thread. Sorry.

  • Joel

    Complaining is a national pass-time in the UK (where I live). It’s almost anti-social here NOT to ‘whinge’ (as the Brits call it). It’s considered a virtue in this country, it seems. It becomes such a habit that it’s hard to catch yourself doing it after living here for a while; but it’s really affected me and I wish I could stop it. (Prayers gratefully accepted.)

    • http://www.waynestiles.com/ Wayne Stiles

       I know what you mean, Joel. Whinging isn’t what we call it here in the USA, but it’s still what we do. It’s almost as if we try to find common ground on talking about what is wrong rather than what is right. Praying for you to start a new trend of gratitude. :-)

  • http://undistractedchristian.com/ Tyler Hess

    I think my impatience makes me complain the most

    • http://www.waynestiles.com/ Wayne Stiles

      That’s an insightful connection, Tyler, between impatience and complaining. I’m always amazed at how one sin causes/affects another.

  • Lynn

    Thanks for posting this, Wayne! I stand in awe of God’s timing….needed this today! 

    • http://www.waynestiles.com/ Wayne Stiles

      Thank you, Lynn. Yes! His timing is always perfect. But it seems I often only see that after the fact. Waiting is tough. :-)

  • Pingback: The Wilderness of Zin—Inspiring Awe but Not Obedience to God | Wayne Stiles