Tag Archives: complaining

Picky Eaters in the Desert

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picky eaterMy Mother, the stoic, had an expression that she used on us when we were children.  She would say, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”  When we didn’t like the sensible, brown shoes in the hand-me-down bag, she would say that.  When we turned up our noses at leftovers for dinner, she would say that.  Somehow it didn’t make me feel any more grateful.

This week I had the opportunity to do the devotional in our morning assembly at school.  I was assigned the theme, “thankfulness.”  I started by asking the kids to raise their hands if they were picky eaters.  (My own children should have raise their hands.  I forgot to look and see if they did.)  Then I told the story about the Israelites, wandering in the wilderness, who dared to be picky.  If anyone deserved the title “beggars” it was them!

The Israelites had been delivered from slavery in Egypt.  They were set free in a blizzard of miracles from the 10 plagues to the parting of the Red Sea to the presence of God with them day and night as a pillar of cloud or fire.  They should have constantly been walking around with their mouths hanging open in amazement at all that God had done for them.  But no, they repeatedly forgot to be thankful.

So after a few months in the desert, their food ran out.  God did another miracle for them by giving them Manna, food from Heaven, every single day.  At first, they were thrilled.  The Manna tasted like flakes of honey.  It was delicious, healthy, versatile, free and abundant.  But after a while, they started to get bored with Manna.  Let me say that again, they got bored with the Miracle that happened every single day before their very eyes.  They forgot that without this miracle, they were beggars.  And beggars can’t be choosers.

That’s when the complaining began.  Once they started being ungrateful, the Manna no longer tasted sweet.  It tasted bland because their hearts were no longer joyful and full of thanks.  Their attitude affected their appetites.  They no longer hungered for the things of God.  They started looking back and hungering for the food in Egypt.  They forgot that as slaves, they would not have eaten like kings.  But they romanticized the past and complained about their present conditions.

They complained that they wanted meat.  So God got angry and decided to teach them a lesson.  He told Moses, “I’m going to give them so much meat that it will make them sick.  They will eat meat until it comes out their noses!”  God send a huge flock of quail into the camp.  They were thrilled at first!  But they quickly over stuffed themselves. Then they got sick and threw up.  The meat came out their noses just like God said it would.

I don’t know if this has ever happened to you, but once I got food poisoning from McDonalds.  I threw up for two days straight.  I haven’t eaten a chicken sandwich since!  That was enough to cure me of any McDonalds cravings for a long, long time.  The same thing happened to the Israelites.  They didn’t want meat after that.  And we heard no more grumbling about Manna for the next 40 years.  They finally accepted the fact that you can’t be a picky eater in the desert.  Better to be thankful than to pass a drumstick out your nostril.

I have my own little tribe of Israelites at home.  All of my children have been picky eaters (though the teenager has pretty much out grown that phase).  My youngest one just surprised me recently.  She went from an all noodles and cereal diet to suddenly agreeing to taste a bite of chicken.  The bribe was, she would eat a piece of chicken if I let her cut it with a knife.  So with my protecting hands over her little paws, we cut the chicken together and she held up her end of the bargain.  Then she declared, “I like it!”  I about died!  Five years of refusing to eat chicken and suddenly she likes it.  I felt like God looking down on his own picky eaters and breathing a sigh of relief.  Finally they are eating and not complaining.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/6144729060/”>CarbonNYC</a&gt; / <a href=”http://foter.com/Food/”>Foter.com</a&gt; / <a href=”http://www.eduteka.pl/doc/cc-by”>CC BY</a>

How to avoid being robbed- part 2

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Maybe some of you can relate to this.  When God is working on something in my life, it kind of becomes a theme with me.  (I’m waiting for the theme about quiet and stillness, but that seems incompatible with this phase of Motherhood.  Someday I’d like to be alone with my thoughts… or at least alone in the bathroom.)  For the last 7 or 8 months, God has been teaching me about Thankfulness.  I’ve been putting it into practice and noticing the changes it has made in me and my circumstances.

It all started last year sometime when I noticed a complaining and whiny tone in my voice.  I have a very low tolerance for people who complain and whine.  I can stand it for less than 5 minutes before I just have to walk away.  My excuse usually involves a pressing appointment with a dentist for a root canal, but don’t be fooled… I’m running away from the wet blanket personality.  It’s actually a form of mercy, because if I stood there listening any longer, I might slap someone in the face.  So when I heard this tone in my own voice, I was disgusted with myself.

Things lead to things and I found myself doing some Bible studies on Complaining.  That’s when I stumbled upon Thanksgiving as an antidote to feeling sorry for myself.  During the month of November, every single day I posted something on my Facebook status that I was thankful for.  It wasn’t hard to think of things, actually it was harder to narrow it down to one thing a day!  I found that the more full of Thanks I was, the less likely I was to find things to be cranky and whiny about.  By then, Thankfulness had taken on a life of its own and had become a habit.

Thankfulness breeds Joy.  That’s what I’ve discovered.  By nature, I am a Murphy’s Law- Glass Half Empty sort of person.  I call it Realistic, not Pessimistic.  So I’m still not going around like a Pollyanna always looking for sunshine in the gloom.  What has changed is my appreciation of both sunshine and gloom.  I can be Thankful for both.  I can thank God for sending both good things and hard things my way.  My Joy is unshakeable because it is no longer dependent upon my circumstances.  I can see the loving hand of God reaching out to me even in the darkness and I am thankful that He’s there.

God wants you to live a life full of Joy.  In the good times AND the bad times, you can have Joy.  Satan wants to steal your Joy, to make you feel guilty and sorry for yourself.  Nothing will kill your Joy faster than complaining.  And nothing will safeguard your Joy like Thankfulness.

If you feel like you’re being robbed of your Joy, I challenge you to be deliberate about practicing Thankfulness.  It’s an easy habit to acquire once you get started.  You’ll see results faster than you imagined.  Start a list of things to be thankful for, soon your Joy will be evident to everyone who knows you.

In addition, here’s another article called “15 Powerful things that Happy People Do Differently” Notice #12.

God’s Pet Peeve

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We’ve all heard that God sees all sin as equal.  Well that’s not exactly true.  Yes it’s all bad, but he calls some sins an abomination and there were only 10 Commandments- not every sin is mentioned in that list.  And there are some things that we accept as normal, part of our every day lives, but God doesn’t like them.

Does God have a pet peeve?  I think so.  Wanna know what I think it is?  Complaining.

Without throwing a bunch of scriptures at you, let me give you a few examples.  The Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years… and complained the whole stinking time.  Some of it was stuff that we would consider every-day, “normal” complaining.  The weather was hot.  There was sand in everything.  They were living in tents.  They ate the same foods every day with no variety.  The scenery was getting boring.  There was no water.  They were just complaining about the nitty gritty hardships of living and traveling in the desert.  Most of us would think of these as “normal”.  We would have posted these complaints on our facebook status and never considered them to be a sin, but we see that they angered God so much that he sent fire from Heaven to consume some of them!  Clearly even this kind of “normal” complaining makes God seriously angry.  He got sick of those guys!

We don’t think complaining is such a big deal because we are surrounded by it all the time.  Unless it’s directed at us, we hardly notice it.  But God is not indifferent to our complaining.  He takes it really seriously.  In Phil. 2:14 we are commanded “Do all things without complaining and contention.” And 1 Cor. 10:10 commands us not to “grumble as some of them (The Israelites) did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”

When we complain, there is a deeper root of sin that is present.  Complaining is like the runners that spread the sin around.  Think about it this way.  We believe that God is sovereign.  We know that the Lord always has good reasons for sending hardships our way.  When we become discontent with how God is managing things, we show that we do not trust God.  We show that we don’t believe that He is in control or, even worse, we don’t believe that he is a Good God.  In our pride, we think that we know what is best for us, we can conceive of a better way of doing things, and we degrade God into a pitiful, weakling who doesn’t care about us as much as we care about ourselves.  “God knows that complaining is an expression of our pride, and not only pride in general, but more specifically, arrogance against God Himself.”  ALL OF THAT IS CALLED BLASPHEMY.  And that is why complaining is a sin- because it has its roots in blasphemy.

In the Old Testament, God sent fire to consume the complaining Israelites.  Under the New Covenant of Grace, God doesn’t burn us up with fire but He sends dryness into our souls.  Our spirits become a dry and barren, scorched land.  Ever tried to use a dry sponge to soak up a spill.  A dry sponge just pushes the mess along, only  a damped sponge can soak up the liquid.  Our spirits can get dry and unable to soak up God’s goodness, his Word, or his blessings.  We just don’t take it in.  Our complaining has dried out our spirit.

So how do you stop complaining?

First, Speak God’s words.  Start memorizing scriptures that confirm God’s goodness to you.  Repeat these good words rather than spewing your spirit sucking complaints.  Second, Be thankful in ALL circumstances.  Good and bad, God has sent these circumstances to you for a reason.  Thank God for everything.  Third, Do something good for someone less fortunate than you.  When you see the circumstances of homeless people or poor people or people living in a third world country you will realize all that you have.  You really are blessed!  Counting your blessings is the quickest way to saturate your spirit with the goodness that God shows to you every day.  Soak it up!!  The goodness is everywhere, every day.  Quench your thirsty soul with thankfulness.