Of course my words don’t seem like grumbling, just telling the truth with a bit, or a lot, of discontentment woven through it. I feel cheated, mistreated, and misunderstood. I’m certainly worthy to be treated in a better manner!
Unfortunately, I rarely immediately realize I’m thinking I’m smarter than God. My grumbling basically indicates I think God is doing a lousy job. I may think I’m just grumbling against the stupidity of others, but God has allowed their “stupidity,” therefore ultimately I am grumbling against Him. He is sovereign. He could change a person or a circumstance. Yet He hasn’t.
Let’s look at Mark 6:30-36.
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ And they said to him, ‘Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?’
The disciples had just returned from a very successful evangelistic campaign and they were exhausted. Time alone with Jesus without all these needy people? Priceless!
But the silly crowd runs to meet them. The disciples’ hope of rest is dashed. They know Jesus will react with compassion. Just like him. Now we won’t get what we need. What about our needs?
How could they subtly communicate their displeasure, yet hide their heart’s motive? Grumble. “Jesus, send them away. Tell them to leave us alone. Let’s go back to the original plan of rest.”
Of course, I could be wrong about their tone and their motive but notice their next words of exaggerated sarcasm: “Oh, OK, Jesus, I suppose you want us to go buy food with money we don’t have. Do you realize how much it’s going to cost?” They can’t seem to trust Jesus’ heart of love.
I have no right to be critical of the disciples. I’ve been in their shoes, er, sandals. I’ve been weary “serving the Lord.” I’ve grumbled in my heart. “God! Acknowledge my sacrifice for your sake.” Or “Stop mistreating me.” Can I say that outright to Him? No, because grumbling sounds so unspiritual and I must be seen as the spiritual person. But my heart feels uncared for and my motive is to protect myself from feeling unlovable.
We mask our uncertainty of God’s care and love, not by honest words but by grumbling, sarcasm, arguing, or criticism. Such ungodly reactions of distrust don’t magnify our Lord’s love even though He demonstrated His love by sending His most precious treasure, His sinless Son, to die on the cross for our salvation.
The Apostle Paul tells us, Do all things without grumbling or disputing (Philippians 2:14). That’s in the ESV. Some versions use the word “murmurings” for grumbling. The Greek word for “murmurings” is the same used to describe the Israelites’ complaint in the wilderness. The Greek word for “disputing” includes questioning and doubting.
When we grumble we are acknowledging God’s plan but we’re saying it’s stupid, undesirable, and comes from God’s uncaring heart. We are giving him credit but not glory.
When I’m able to stop grumbling it’s because I choose to become convinced God’s plan comes from His heart of love.
I realize grumbling is like a toothless lion. It’s growl has no power to make life better. It only makes it worse and destroys our trust in God. TWEET THAT!
Ready to stop grumbling? Let’s become more convinced God’s sovereign plan is good for us. Would you share with my readers what you’ve found effective for diminishing grumbling?
(My post is an adapted excerpt from my book, Pure-Hearted: The Blessings of Living Out God’s Glory.)