The Problem With Complaining

Who will give us meat to eat? . . . There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.
–Numbers 11:4, 6

Three days into their journey to the Promised Land, the Israelites started complaining. The complaints started with the non-Israelites who left Egypt and came along for the ride to the Promised Land, but it spread like gangrene through the entire Israelite population. And here was the complaint: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic” (Numbers 11:4-5). For us, it would be like saying, “We remember what we used to eat: the ribeye steaks and the baked potatoes.” They reminisced about how they used to eat all those things in Egypt for “free.” For free? What did they mean for free? They had been in bondage for 430 years. It was not for free. But they selectively forgot that. They just started longing for the good old days. Do you know people who do that? They just long for the good old days. Let me tell you something: the good old days were not that good. People who long for the good old days are people who selectively forget the hardships in the good old days.

The Israelites grumbled, “Now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna” (11:6). Manna was a wafer that tasted like honey that God had miraculously provided as food for the Israelites. In Exodus 16, as soon as the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, what did they do? They started to complain, “We are going to starve to death out here in the wilderness!” Think about it: they had just seen the power of God displayed in the parting of the Red Sea. Was it too hard for God to give them something to eat? But they were sure God had brought them to the other side to allow them to die. So God graciously provided manna for them. And He provided so much manna they did not know what to do with all of it. The manna was the answer to their prayer, but notice that the object of their prayer became the source of their complaint.

Now before you say, “Those dumb Israelites. I cannot believe they would do that,” think about your life. Many times, what we pray for ends up being what we complain about. We pray for God to give us a mate, and then we spend the rest of our marriage complaining about him or her. We pray that God will give us a job, then we grumble about our boss or how hard it is. We pray that God will bless our church, and then we start complaining when all the new people start coming. The object of our prayers, if we are not careful, becomes the source of our complaints.

Some of you have gotten into a bad habit of complaining. You complain about the weather. You complain about your family. You complain about your job. You complain about the government. You complain about your church. Do not be surprised if you wake up one day and find that the mate you have been complaining about decides to leave, or the job you say you hate is suddenly lost, or that parent or that child you were complaining about is taken from you in death. God does not allow complaining to go unanswered.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Cure For Complaining” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2013.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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