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Jim and Bill received layoff notices from their employer, an insurance company that was being downsized by its new owner.
“Once again the little man gets squeezed,” sighed Bill; “Is this the thanks I get for 15 years of loyal service?”
“Yeah, this stinks,” replied Jim, “but God is still with us if we continue to trust Him, even in hard times.”
“Seriously?” blurted Bill.
“Faith isn’t going to keep a roof over our heads or feed our kids.
Where is God now?
Why won’t He protect what He knows we deserve?
I wish I had looked out for myself—inflated my commissions like everyone else—at least I’d have a little nest egg built up.”
Jim and Bill illustrate the difference between groaning and grumbling.
There is a distinction between groaning and grumbling in the Bible.
It’s important to know the difference between the two because one connects us to God and the other one disconnects us.
Groaning is what we do when we are suffering.
We go to God and tell Him to His face, what is bothering us.
When we do that, we respect God’s sovereignty, because even though we are suffering, we understand God is in control.
Groaning is God centered.
Grumbling, on the other hand, is what we do when people or circumstances in our lives don’t meet our expectations.
We go behind God’s back and complain to people who will listen to us.
Grumbling is self-centered.
I am stunned every time I read the story of the exodus.
How can the people of Israel complain like they do?
How could they be so ignorant, so stupid, so forgetful?
The God of the universe had just tossed around the most powerful man on the face of the earth like a toddler with a rag doll.
God didn’t just humble Pharaoh; he broke his spirit and revealed Pharaoh’s impotence.
A slave people and their God left him and his nation in shambles.
This display of power sent vibrations throughout the world, inspiring fear and awe.
Yet Israel’s response to this spectacular deliverance from Egypt is not mainly praise, worship, and wholehearted trust.
Instead, Israel responds with grumbling — complaining, murmuring, quarreling.
“No water, Moses!
Where’s the beef, Moses?
I have blisters on my feet, Moses.
Who died and made you boss?
Are we there yet, Moses?”
Spiritual amnesia set in quickly and covered the eyes of Israel’s hearts.
So soon had they forgotten God’s gracious and miraculous deliverance?This spiritual amnesia — forgetting God’s deliverance and provision — is a deadly disease.
The people of Israel, on the heels of unthinkable miracles, with their pockets full of Egyptian jewelry, grumble at their less-than-five-star accommodations in the desert.
This wasn’t just headache-induced grumbling or low-blood-sugar complaining.
This was faithlessness.
It is the heart that says, “I know better than God.
If only he would follow my plan.”
And yet that’s my heart and yours.
“Where’s the dinner, honey?
Leftovers again?
Where’s the protein?
Is that all you got done today?
Can you change the dirty diaper?
What’s this sticky stuff on the chair?”
I can be just like the people of Israel.
“I know you’ve forgiven all my sins at the cross, rescued me from eternal conscious torment, and given me everlasting joy in your presence, but all we have for dinner is ramen or Cheerios.”
Grumbling distorts our past.
What we remember is not exactly where we came from.
As one author states “are blinded by nostalgia.”
“If only we could get back to those great days in the 60’s.
If only we could have the Great Society.
If only we could have these poverty programs.
That would be it”, and people on the right think, “If only we could get back to the Reagan Revolution.
If only we could turn back the clock to 1981.”
In both cases, he says, people are blinded by nostalgia.
It’s not that we don’t have anything to learn from the past, but we tend to remember a golden age that didn’t really exist.
The good old days weren’t always so good.
Listen, if you tend to complain about everything now, chances are that you complained about everything back then—whenever then was.
Back when you were in college—back when you were single—back when you had no kids—back when all your kids were in the house—those were the days.
Yes, there are blessings and a sense of loss.
Yes, things change, but the good old days weren’t always so good.
Grumbling exaggerates the present
But notice something in
They have one more grumble session in .
“But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
Their livestock are still with them.
They have all of their immense flocks and herds.
Back in , they’re not exactly on the brink of starvation.
They can milk their animals.
They could make cheese.
They probably didn’t know how to make ice cream, but that would have been nice too.
If they were really starving, they had a lot of meat they could have eaten if they killed their own animals.
So we’re not talking about needs so much as wants.
Their livestock are still with them.
They have all of their immense flocks and herds.
Back in , they’re not exactly on the brink of starvation.
They could have milked their animals if they were thirsty.
If they were really starving, they had a lot of meat they could have eaten if they killed their own animals.
So we’re not talking about needs so much as wants.
Grumbling is not ultimately the heart’s response to circumstances, but to God.
The problem with grumblers is that they don’t really trust that God is big enough to help and good enough to care.
Grumbling, whining, and thanklessness are not ultimately the heart’s responses to circumstances, but to God.
Israel grumbled at their enslavement, grumbled when Moses came on the scene, and still grumbled as they wandered safely in the wilderness.
Their complaining wasn’t rooted in their scenery, but their heart.
The same is true for you.
A heart of gratitude and thankfulness isn’t dependent on your bank statement, doctor’s diagnosis, or the praise you receive for a job well done.
Thanklessness and grumbling — regardless of your situation, even your suffering — reflect your heart.
They are sin.
Spiritual amnesia is a deadly disease that threatens your faith and your joy more than any cancer.
It penetrates to the core and rots your heart from within.
How can we guard ourselves from this spiritual forgetfulness?
How can we root out the cancer that threatens our joy and faith?
Very simply the antidote is to remember.
Remember God’s gracious deliverance and redemption.
Establish it in your memory.
Memorialize it.
Paint it on the walls of your house.
Journal it and reread it each morning.
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