How do we fight the urge to complain?

by Chelsea Mosher on February 25, 2020

Throughout the Old Testament we can see that the Israelites not only had a generational condition of grumbling but also a generational condition of forgetfulness.

These two issues rise to the surface in Exodus 15.

When the Israelites lived as slaves in Egypt, they were in a hopeless situation. They cried out to God and he heard them, then delivered them. In one of the greatest rescue stories ever told, the Israelites watched their enemies get swept away by the sea, and the only explanation for their salvation was the immeasurable power of God.

Then, they turned and walked into the wilderness. They walked for three days, looking for water as they traveled and found none. They finally came to an oasis called Marah only to discover water that was too bitter to drink. Then the grumbling began (Exodus 15:24).

The Israelites probably felt justified in their grumbling. Three days without water left them thirsty and irritable, ready to cast blame on the first target they could find — Moses. How quickly they forgot the God who cast their enemies into the sea and rescued them from slavery.

How quickly we forget that we’ve been given everything we need (2 Peter 1:3).

Over and over again, through prophets and kings, God calls the nation of Israel to remember his faithfulness. He brought them out of Egypt and blessed them in extraordinary ways.

It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of complaining. We’re naturally inclined to desire a life of ease. We don’t look for opportunities to trust God, we look for ways to reach instant satisfaction. But we have hope. Our hope isn’t found in fresh water or finding ways to bypass difficult situations. Our hope is found in our Redeemer.

If the first thing on our lips is a complaint, maybe what we need is the Source more than a fix to the problem. Because seeking out the temporary solution to our complaint is like drinking bitter water — it will only leave us wanting more.

Moses could’ve joined the chorus of complaints or set off to solve the problem by himself. But instead, Moses’s response to the grumbling Israelites was a cry out to God. The Lord showed him a solution and led them to a refuge that had all they needed (Exodus 15:27). 

The solution God gave Moses points again to himself. Moses’s first inclination wasn’t to throw a piece of wood into the water, but God asked him to. He rescued Moses and the Israelites in a peculiar way, with a solution they’d never forget. 

He’s a God who uses mysterious, obscure things to accomplish his will. He’s a God we need to remember, rehearsing his character and his faithfulness in our minds.

He brought us out of slavery to sin, and he’ll continue to be our Deliverer.

When we are stuck and find ourselves wanting more, or better, or easy, what if we breathed out a prayer instead of a complaint? We might find ourselves desiring Jesus more than a life free of difficulty. Or we might recall a time when we were rescued and cared for by our God and focus more on him than our circumstance. We might remember.

Tags: prayer, remember, complaining, great gain

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