Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sick of Complaining

I have to admit, the first days of the new year have been a bit rough. Viruses and the respiratory flu have come to stay in spite of the fact that they weren't invited.

I've noticed a familiar pattern when I feel less than my best; something I'm not proud of -- I complain. Because good health is the norm, it's easy to justify my complaints. But complaining is toxic.

Just like poison, complaining taints everything it touches. When I begin a conversation with a complaint, I set the tone for others to add more of the same. Negativity creates a downward spiral that leads to hopelessness.

Consider the children of Israel. They had been set free from the bondage of slavery. God had done the miraculous and released them from their cruel taskmasters, the Egyptians. Instead of continuing to trust God to provide for their physical needs, they chose to complain.

 Listen to one of their pity parties:

"And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger," (Exodus 16:2-3; KJV).

Really? Was the food in Egypt that good? Had they forgotten the hard labor and beatings they had endured at the hand of the Egyptians? Probably not. But when circumstances were far from ideal, complaining was easier than exercising faith.

Unfortunately, this became a prevalent  attitude. From their Exodus out of Egypt until they stood poised to possess the Promised Land, the Israelites demonstrated a recurring pattern of complaints that dotted the landscape over which they traveled.

Did this negative attitude have much of an impact on them? Definitely. It's no secret that they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years following a major bout of complaining.

After the twelve Israelites returned from spying out the Promised Land, their negative report enticed the rest of the people to voice their doubts:  "And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness," (Numbers 14:2). They were so discouraged they were ready to elect a captain to lead them back to Egypt.

I often shake my head in disgust at the lack of faith displayed by this large group of people. Hadn't they seen God work on their behalf? Surely they would trust Him by now. Then I realize I act just like them. God has done some pretty amazing things in my life, yet I fall back into the rut of complaining when things don't go the way I expect them to.

But I have a choice. I can choose to trust God and praise Him in spite of how I feel and regardless of my circumstances. I can agree with God that complaining is sin, and pray the words of the Psalmist: "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer," (Psalm 19:14).

Today, I choose to praise the Lord and use words that give hope.

Do you complain? What step will you take to eliminate complaints from your conversations today?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the reminder that complaining is sin. Help me remember the example of the Israelites when I'm tempted to grumble. You've given me so many reasons to praise You. Help me trust You every day and to praise You even when things are difficult. Thank You for the hope You give me.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Join in the conversation!


  1. Well, I don't complain much, but I have to admit that sometimes I am having a pity party :( Maybe that's basically the same thing, right!
    We have to be so careful not be murmuring... like the Israelites did, they missed out on a lot of blessings.

    1. Wonderful to see you Marja! I can identify with those pity parties too. I love the fact that the Lord gives us SO many stories in His Word that serve as examples for us - we just need to apply them! That's where relying on the Holy Spirit comes in, right?! God bless you my friend! :)

  2. Wow...this is a humbling post. I think lately I've tended to start most conversations complaining, especially with people I know are going to be sympathetic. I have been so blessed--I need to take a hint from the stories of the Israelites! Thank you, Maria!

    1. Hi Ralene! This post came about as a result of a Bible study I'm reading, entitled Lord, Change My Attitude by James MacDonald. The Lord has really used it to point out my bad habit of complaining. I'm so thankful to be given the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the Israelites and make different choices through the power of the Holy Spirit. Have a super blessed week!

  3. I seem to go in phases. Negativity can be a vicious cycle! When I am negative, I see the bad, which makes me negative, which leads to me focusing on the bad. When I fall in a negativity funk, my husband has a sweet, gentle way of redirecting my thoughts. He says, "Tell me something good." This lets me know I'm focusing on the negative and encourages me to change my thought processes. So grateful for the wonderful leader God has given our family!

    I've also found prayer is a great attitude changer. It's kind of hard to complain about, well, just about anything, when I'm talking to the One who bled and died for me.

  4. Thanks for being so transparent Jen! I like the fact that your husband encourages you to redirect your thoughts when you're in a "funk." Love your observation about prayer: "It's kind of hard to complain about, well, just about anything, when I'm talking to the One who bled and died for me." Wow! I'm sure I'll think of that the next time I'm tempted to complain. Have a great weekend! God bless~

  5. Thank you Maria for a thought provoking post. I do have those times when I allow myself to get caught up in self pity! It is in these times that I then miss God's blessings. I am learning to have a thankful heart and in those "pity" moments to be thankful too!
    Sweet friend I love visiting here and your posts always lift and inspire me. You are a blessing!
    Hugs and blessings.