Do you know what complaining means? The Merriam-Webster's dictionary says that complain means to say or write that you are unhappy, sick, uncomfortable, etc., or that you do not like something; to find fault.
Keeping that in mind, how many times have you complained today alone? It's easy to do isn't it...
"It's far too hot."
"It's far too cold."
"I never get time for myself."
"My clothes are too tight."
Yes, I'm guilty of it as well. Sometimes it's easier to find fault in something or someone and 'talk' about it than it is to do the right thing. But what exactly is the right thing to do?
I've always been fascinated by the story of the Israelites in the Bible. They were slaves in Egypt but then God freed them by using a man called Moses. But soon after all the rejoicing and celebrating the Israelites turned to complaining. Oh! the complains! You can read all about it in Numbers 11. They complained about not having enough food, about not having a specific kind of food, they complained about the food they did have (which was plenty by the way, they just got bored of it). In Numbers 12 we have Miriam and Aaron complaining about the leadership God had put in place, "Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn't he spoken through us, too?" Complaining permeated across the camp. What is interesting is how it all got started!
Numbers 11:4 says, "Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt, and the people of Israel also began to complain." The Message Bible version puts it this way: "The riffraff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining." Foreign rabble, riffraff, and as other Bible Versions put it "mixt mulititude". Who were these people? They were basically non-Israelites that had attached themselves to the camp. One of the Bible devotionals puts it this way, "They were the rabble that came with the Israelites out of Egypt expecting almost instantaneous fulfillment of the promise land. When the fulfillment was delayed, they became pestilent discontents. This leaven worked its way through the whole community of God's children and wrought great evil. They infected the Israelites, who quickly copied their ways."
What an example this scenario is to the importance of surrounding yourself with people that push you to be a much better human being that you currently may be. I don't like to be around complaining people, do you? I tend to separate myself from complainers. It's just energy zapping to be around people like that. And not only that, but I have noticed that if I'm around complainers, it is far easier for me to do the same. It is far easier to become unhappy, to talk about the stuff I don't like, to find fault in things and in people and talk and talk about it until somehow I feel a bit better.
My husband was preaching about relationships in his #GETFIT series last month and he said this, "sometimes people come to you with what they see as a 'concern' but in fact, because they may be unhappy about something, in their quest to make it better (or feel better) they in fact end up looking for an ear that will join in their [complaining]. Be careful that you don't offer your ears to enable someone else's complaining or gossiping."
The Israelites offered their ears to the riffraff and soon they began to complain too. If they would have only followed Moses' example.
The people complained to one another-and only destruction was accomplished. Moses took his complaint to God, who can solve any problem.
Here's the thing, Moses got fed up with stuff too. Much like you or I get fed up with things that happen in the world around us. Good Lord, I probably would have reacted much more like the Israelites did if I had to lead them/deal with them. Life is not always pretty, many times is just plain ugly. And people won't always treat you the way you feel you need to be treated not will you be everyone's cup of english tea. The thing here is not that you are to be restricted from voicing your frustrations, the thing here is HOW you go about it. In Numbers 11:11 Moses was very aggravated and complained but his complaint went straight to God.
That's a practice I want to master. I'm so not there yet, but If I don't like to have people around me that complain, that zap my energy, then I must not become one myself. In place of complaining I'd rather master the art of thanksgiving!
The antidote to complaining is giving thanks more. It's looking for those roots of good things among the stuff that is unsettling us, frustrating us.
The time is now. Time to not only watch out for foreign rabble but also from becoming one myself and it's also time to complain less and give more thanks.