God hates complaining. In the Old Testament, God had rescued the Israelites from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. They had a miraculous escape through the Red Sea and were on their way to the Promised Land. Yet only two of the original group actually arrived at the final destination. The rest perished in the desert. Why? One contributing factor was their complaining.
First, they complained that they had no food so God graciously provided manna. This was food that miraculously appeared each morning for them to collect for their families for the day. However, it was not long before they complained about the manna. They even went so far as to say that they preferred their lives of slavery in Egypt to another day of eating manna. I am disgusted by their ungratefulness. They were a complaining, grumbling bunch that couldn’t see how good they actually had it. They were constantly looking for the bad in their situation instead of focusing on how God had favoured them, heard their cries, saved them from slavery, and provided for them on their way to the Promised Land.
However, it’s easy for me to pass judgment on them as I read about their story in the Bible. It’s obvious to me what they did wrong. But I was recently convicted of my own behaviour. Some days I am no better than those complainers.
I can think specifically of a job I received. This job was a miracle from God in itself. My two co-workers had been waiting over three years to get this job – I had just applied a month before. It was my ideal job. It was only part-time hours so it allowed me to continue to pursue my other interests and hobbies. It was close to my home, within the hours that my children were at school and doing what I love to do – teach.
However, when I was first offered the job I complained about the topic I would be teaching – accounting. It was not my first love. I would have preferred to teach creative writing or marketing – something fun. But accounting? I balked. Then I complained about the cost of parking. Then I complained that I had to share an office. Then I complained that my mailbox was too high, the water was too cold, the photocopier was too far away, the computer was too slow – well, you get the point. Instead of focusing on the answer to prayer, I focused on the little irritants about which to complain.
Finally, I started to complain about the students – one particular student. She would come to class with a snarl and sit in the back of the classroom with her arms crossed, feet up and a scowl that would scare crows away. It seemed to me that she not only hated the topic I was teaching, but she also hated the teacher. Each day, I returned home and complained to my husband about this particular student. Things did not improve. She became more and more despondent and even poisoned the entire class with her sickly attitude. I complained more. I complained to other teachers and my friends; anyone who dared to ask the question, “How do you enjoy teaching?”
I have since realized that my complaining was not doing me any good, but rather it made things worse. I learned that when I complain, I not only hurt this other person, but I hurt myself, and worse still, I hurt God. God hates complaining and grumbling. When I complain, I reject God.
Instead, I need to take action. First, I need to pray about this student, and secondly I need to pray for her. God wants me to take my problems to Him. He wants me to give Him my complaints just as King David did (Psalm 5:9 NIV). If I share my bitterness and hurts with Jesus then He can replace them with love and joy. I need not complain to other people, but rather take my complaints and place them in view of God. Secondly, I need to pray for this student. I need to ask that God will love this person through me. I need to pray that my words will bring healing. I need to pray for her salvation.
I have since asked God for forgiveness for my complaining spirit. Now that I’ve poured out my attitude to God, I can allow Him to pour His love into me.
“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11 NIV).