Grumbling is one of the fastest ways to distort your vision and let in crippling discouragement. Complaining is really blaming someone else for what we don’t like about our own life. Instead of looking for what we appreciate, we focus on what we despise. Grumbling will sabotage a workplace, a church, a family, or any community because it is deadly and destructive.
When Moses led the people of Israel through the wilderness on their journey to the Promised Land, they had a very bad habit of grumbling. When things did not work out the way they hoped they would, they grumbled. If they were hungry or thirsty or tired or even if they wanted something different to eat, they would grumble. In Numbers chapter 11, the people began to crave other food than what they had to eat. They said, “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Numbers 11:5-6). It is amazing how selective their memory was of Egypt. They remember the abundance of fish at no cost, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. One wonders if Egypt was so wonderful, why did they ever leave it in the first place. Do they even remember the slavery, the harsh taskmasters, the endless brickmaking, and the construction of pharaoh’s slave cities? Their memory of the past was very faulty.
Not only do they remember Egypt in a way it never was, but they are also bored to death of eating manna every day. The manna was free and could be prepared many different ways, but that didn’t matter. Grumbling is contagious and easily passed on to others. Their distorted view of the past prevented them from seeing and appreciating the present, and it also completely robbed their future.
This habit of being completely discontented with what God has given to us is a persistent bad habit in our lives today. It is a refusal to recognize God’s gifts, whether they are the leaders, the gifts and talents of others, our own gifts, or the heritage and the whole lot we have been given in life. When we think more highly of the past than the present, more highly of where we came from than where we are, more highly of past companions than the ones we have now, it is a rejection of God’s provision for our lives.
Moses was so overcome with hearing the grumbling of the people. He also began to grumble to God about the grumbling. What he had done before in this instance was to pray for the people. As an intercessor, God responded to his prayers and intervened on behalf of the people. Grumbling is hard to listen to, and sometimes it infects all of us, as it did Moses.
The antidote for grumbling is found in seeing our God-given purpose. Only then can we look back and see the past in a way that benefits the present. Only then will we appreciate our present circumstances, the people around us, and yes, even our present challenges. Only then will we keep moving toward our God-given destiny. Instead of grumbling, let’s trying praying for the people and things we don’t like and allow God to help us see things his way.