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