I haven't blogged for the last few weeks, due to just being plain crazy busy...and maybe a slight plateau in my writing enthusiasm. As I was praying the last few days for God to teach me something new, He brought me back to three things that have been on my heart and mind: complaining about trivialities, complacency in our spiritual life, and compassion for those that God feels compassion for. Rather than force people to read a humongous manifesto about the three of them combined, I decided to break it up into three parts and tackle one item per post.
My son is a darling. I love him to pieces, and most of the time he is an angel. However, lately he has had some really tough mornings. He definitely takes after me, his mother, in his lack of enthusiasm and general grumpiness when it comes to waking up.
Yawn. Argh, the light is starting to peek through my room-darkening shades. It must be about eight a.m. It's too early. I wish that my toddler circadian rhythm would allow me to sleep until nine like I used to. Alright, here we go. Mama! Sheesh. It's been five seconds since I called to her. I thought she'd be waiting outside my door. MAMA! Ugh. Where is she? I want my diaper changed immediately, and she'd better have a sippy cup full of warm milk when she walks through the door. I would think that anything less would be atrocious on her part. Okay, we're working on thirty seconds now. Finally, here she comes. She'd better have that mil...WHAT! How dare you come in here without a sippy cup! I'm liable to throw myself back down on my pillow pet and scream at you! No! Don't you dare change my diaper now! I want MILK!
But as you were reading the above story, did you notice anything similar to the way that Christian adults sometimes behave? We feel that anything less than us being absolutely comfortable is a mistake on God's part. We had saved up X amount of money to go on vacation, and then our kid got sick and we had to pay medical bills. Rather than thank God for having allowed us to pay for the medical bills immediately because of the provision of savings, we complain about the missed trip. Rather than thank God for our job, which helps provide for our families, we complain that it's not high-paying enough, that our boss is too ___ (fill in the blank), or that we are passed over for a promotion. Rather than thank God for the beautiful children that he has created to be in our families, we complain about the gender of the child or the burden of raising it. Instead of thanking God for our health, we complain when we contract the common cold. Try having cancer once in your life, you'll never complain about a cold/flu bug/sinus infection EVER again.
We Christians complain ALL the time about ridiculous stuff. We somehow place an expectation on God that we are not to endure trials or character-building situations. How do you think this reflects our faith to non-believers? We are commanded to do everything without grumbling or complaining (Phil. 2:14), and yet so many of us have bought into this mentality that we deserve nothing less than a beautiful house, an easy life, and tons of extra money in the bank. When Christians complain about trivialities, non-believers hear them and think that there is nothing special or different about our attitudes.
The truth is, very few of the Christians that I run with have any reason to complain against God's provision in their lives (including Ryan and I!). We are all comfortable, safe, and well-provided for. But there is an innate feeling within many of us that is a toxic remnant of our inherent sinful nature that makes us feel like we are little gods on our throne, and no one had better forget that.
The Israelites were famous for this grumbling & complaining attitude as they wandered the desert. Numbers 11:1-4 details their lack of thankfulness:
Now, I am not expecting that we are all going to be perfect at this notion of not complaining. Sometimes life gives us seriously bitter lemons, and it is healthy for us to express our disappointment and our anger. Bottling our feelings is never a good idea emotionally, and I do truly believe that God wants us to come to Him with our feelings. What I don't think God likes or desires is for us to be ungrateful and bitter and negative. It is a good idea to have someone in our lives that is a mentor or a close friend that is able to point out truth to us when we are in the depths of despair or crisis. For an example of this, read the book of Job, specifically chapters 10 and 11. Job was in the middle of his trial and illness, and he complained bitterly against the Lord in Chapter 10. His friend Zophar confronts him with truth in Chapter 11 and pretty much tells Job to check his sinful attitude. Do you have a Zophar in your life? Is there someone that you're willing to listen to when they straight up tell you that your attitude is not where it should be?
Complaining is not something that any of us are immune to. However, we need to train ourselves to think more in terms of thankfulness and to ensure that our prayers and petitions are chock full of thanksgiving. Our God is a giver of good gifts!