God Provides - Dealing with Complainers: Part 1

How do you tend to respond to complainers?  Or when people complain about you, how do you tend to respond?  Are we quick to help someone who's complained about us, or not so much?  Let's be honest, no one likes a complainer.  And we have all have our limits of how much complaining we can take before we lose our patience (and most likely our temper) with someone complaining about us.  If you're like me and someone complains about how I do something, I have no problem simply not doing it at all and allowing them to handle it themselves.   Leading up to this story in Exodus 16, God has protected, provided for, and guided the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.  And yet somehow through all of that, they begin to complain.  Thankfully, God is not like us and He did not give up on His people.  He is patient, kind, and slow to anger (Psalm 145:8). 

A month and half departed from Egypt, the Israelites find themselves between Elim and Sinai in the wilderness of Sin.  In the wilderness, all of the people begin to grumble and complain about Moses and Aaron saying to them, "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by pots of meat and ate all the bread we wanted.  Instead, you brought us into this wilderness to make this whole assembly die of hunger!"  Then the Lord said to Moses, "I am going to rain bread from heaven for you.  The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.  This way I will test them to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.  On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days."  (Ex 16:1-5)

Who were the people actually grumbling against?  Moses makes it clear in verse 7-8 that they were not grumbling against him, but against God.  When those of us in the church begin to get upset, complain, and grumble about a pastor, a deacon, or someone else in the church, who are we truly grumbling against?  Think about it.  This is a man who is merely doing his best to serve God and you!  He's not perfect, he doesn't claim to be.  But hey, you aren't either.  We should be mindful about complaining about our leaders without talking with them first to be sure that we understand the situation in its entirety without grumbling and spreading strife among the kingdom of God.

In verse 3, the Israelites even began to reminisce on how "good" they had been living in Egypt.  When we find ourselves frustrated with our current situation, we tend to lose touch with reality and go to a grass is greener on the other side mentality.  The Israelites claimed they were better off in Egypt and had all the food they could eat.  In reality, they had been forced to do labor too difficult to bear and Pharaoh had even attempted to murder their children.   When we allow our eyes to shift off of God and to our circumstances, despair is often quick to follow. 

It's easy for me to sit here and criticize the Israelites for how they acted toward God.  But I'm no better.  I remember the morning that Britt was scheduled to have a C-section (Thomas was breeched) and rushing to the hospital filled with both fear and excitement.  We were scheduled for 8AM so I figured that by 10 we would have a baby and be relaxing in a room.  Neither of us had eaten, we were tired, anxious, and a ton of other emotions.  Well, it just so happened that two other emergency C-sections had to be performed ahead of us.  I was now tired, hungry, and very ill.  But while waiting, we learned that one of the babies born weighed a little over two pounds.  Two pounds.  Those parents were wanting to wait for months before giving birth while I was trying to rush in.  That totally shifted my perspective in that moment of just how blessed were to have that 5+ hour wait to see our son.

Just like when God provided a safe delivery for Britt and Thomas during my grumbling, He provided bread for the Israelites to eat.  No matter how much we complain or how bad our attitude is, God is so full of love us that He always provides for His people.  Will you look to Him first today before allowing your eyes to be consumed by your circumstances?


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