When it comes to complaining, Saint Francis De sales once said, “The truly patient man neither complains of his hard lot nor desires to be pitied by others. He speaks of his sufferings in a natural, true, and sincere way, without murmuring, complaining, or exaggerating them.”
Let’s be honest. I don’t think any of us have never had a time where we were so disgruntled or disappointed that we didn’t let someone know about it! When things get to a boiling point or become overwhelming we love to vent!
Complaining, protesting, moaning and groaning. There can be times where we feel our circumstances warrant the right to complain, gripe, and whine about how bad we have it and how hard we are struggling to put up with it.
Complaining and lamenting our sorrows is very easy to do. Sometimes, it is too easy to do and we find ourselves doing it often. We know as Christians, we are called to rise above this habit that is easy to do but very hard to stop.
Philippians 2:14, “ Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”
We know the scriptures and we already know the best way to handle a situation that “pushes our buttons” but we still sometimes, like Moses, give in to the pressure of the situation we are facing and start complaining.
In our Scripture passage today, we see Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. The journey, by far, is not easy nor has it been glorious. Moses has given them everything he has and tried showing them time after time how merciful and powerful God is and how faithful he has been towards them.
Yet the people continued to complain and even tried to start a rebellion. The people are starting to get out of control and Moses seems to be in over his head. What does he do? Squashes the rebellion? Like General Patton, he puts everyone in their place and shows them who’s boss? Right?
No, he’s had enough. He’s reached his breaking point. Instead of taking the authority of his leadership position, he goes before God and…complains.
He complains about what a burden it is to lead such rebellious people. In fact, he’s so upset, in verse 14, “I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”
I doubt that I would go before Almighty God and tell Him that “killing me” would be doing me a favor!! I hope that I never face a situation that is that bad or stressful.
The unsaved world is watching and our witness is always under scrutiny, so we need to always be mindful of how we deal with and respond to adversity, stress and unpleasant events that happen in our lives.
Lashing out with expletives, blowing our tops and shouting out hurtful expressions, and even giving God a piece of our minds, may feel great at the time and will give a “temporary high” for unleashing all that is pent up inside us, but the damage that it creates cannot be retracted and the scattered pieces may not be able to all be picked up and put back together again.
When we seem to be hitting our breaking point, our blood is boiling, our feelings are hurt, and we have the urge to heave a vocal tirade of our displeasure, we must step back, put the setting on “safe” and take our finger off the trigger and “cease fire.”
Although, humanly speaking, exploding feels so much better at the time, we must hear the truth today: it is ungodly, unholy, and not the response Jesus teaches us.
Matthew 14:13-21, teaches a very powerful lesson to us in how to respond when overwhelmed and reaching the breaking point. Jesus once again, sets the example for us.
Read: Matthew 14:13-21
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
We see quite the contrast of responses between Jesus and Moses. Moses got fed-up, angry and boldly vented his displeasure to God. Jesus, on the other hand, responded in a totally different way.
Look at what happened: Jesus had just received a “red cross message” that his cousin, his forerunner, John the Baptist had been executed and is dead. He needed to get away, collect himself and mourn the loss. However, that didn’t happen. Jesus did not get any time to himself at all!
Although he tried to find a quiet place by boat, the people caught wind of his plans and followed him. I can imagine the utter shock and the “punch in the gut” type of feelings Jesus battled once he realized a crowd was already waiting for his boat to dock at the shore.
We have to imagine the scene as this was no ordinary small crowd. The passage tells us the crowd was “about five thousand men not counting women and children.”Jesus and the disciples had an emergency on their hands. He had no time to grieve, morn or deal with his emotions.
Jesus, from his human side, after seeing the crowd from a distance, could have commanded the disciples to steer the boat away to go further down the coast line.
He could have cursed under his breath venting to God the Father complaining about his circumstances. He could have spewed all kinds of venomous words towards the disciples by yelling and screaming at them to get the boat turned around faster. But, he didn’t. The boat docked. Jesus disembarked, and he attended to the vast crowd.
The amazing thing to me is that he didn’t just “grip and grin” and do “bare minimum ministry” to hurry up and get out of the situation. The Scripture tells us that he spent the entire day teaching, loving, and healing the people who made up this crowd.
If that wasn’t enough, later that evening, He showed His Father’s Glory and power by feeding them starting with a mere five loaves of bread and two fish.
Jesus had every right to get bent out of shape. We would probably understand a temper-tantrum on the boat when they suddenly realized the crowd awaiting them just spoiled their quiet day of grieving and rest.
Jesus, instead, was prepared to deal with the issue. He had spent time in Prayer with His father. He pressed on instead of moving on.
Jesus used this opportunity to teach the Disciples (and us) how to be confident in God’s love and power to give Him the strength he needed to endure and manage His feelings in order to respond compassionately and lovingly to all the needs of the people. I can rest assured that through His service, he found his own comfort and peace despite his emotions, feelings, and Grieving Heart of losing John.
He would not have found such solace had he flew off the handle, raged in disbelief, whined and complained about being inconvenienced by having to deal with this huge, unexpected crowd of people. But he didn’t!
Jesus teaches us to follow his example when we face insurmountable and pressing, stressful situations that could cause us to come unglued or to become irritated or agitated to the point of wanting to explode in anger, complain, moan and groan and lose our composure.
The greatest challenge for us during these moments of our life is that they usually occur when we are most vulnerable. Times when we are tired, stressed, or under some type of duress. Jesus was dealing with news of John the Baptist’s death. The last thing he needed to deal with was a crowd of over 5,000 people…5,000 very needy and very hungry people that had no clue that Jesus was hurting, sad and in mourning.
Let’s learn from Jesus. He didn’t gripe, complain, and come unglued. He prayed. Jesus had an intimate and loving relationship with His Heavenly Father. This deep, abiding relationship had prepared him for such an encounter.
He knew that even the shortest of prayers, as time allowed, that His Father would hear him and answer by offering comfort and all the strength he needed to continue pressing on despite how trying the situation.
His relationship with the Father gave him the confidence He needed to make the impossible, possible. The same is true for us. We need to always turn to the Father when we get the urge to gripe and complain.
The good news is that God our Father does not have a breaking point or a limited tolerance level. He will never resent your asking and will not tire of how many times we must come to him for assistance. He has endless resources.
We cannot afford to try and bridle our own tongue in volatile and pressured situations. James 3:7-8, “For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”
A. W. Tozier said, “Among those sins most exquisitely fitted to injure the soul and destroy the testimony, few can equal the sin of complaining.”
Let us rejoice in the power and strength that God the Father will give us when we are tempted to lash out with bouts of complaining and grumbling about others, our situations, circumstances and disposition.
Although not in the Protestant Scriptures, the Book of Wisdom can still be useful in helping us. Wisdom 1:11, says, “Beware then of useless grumbling, and keep your tongue from slander; because no secret word is without result, and a lying mouth destroys the soul.”
Jesus prayed for strength from His heavenly Father and pressed on with service and selflessness. He spent the day ministering, teaching, healing and being about His Father’s business despite weariness, his grieving heart of losing a loved one, and dealing with his human emotions.
If you will give your struggles, your aggravations, and situations that you can’t seem to shake complaining about to your heavenly Father through Prayer, surrender, and repentance, I believe you will experience a new depth of love from your heavenly father and a new level of victory over what is causing you to be so irritable and what makes it so easy for you to complain.
If you will earnestly do this, I firmly believe he will grant you the victory you are searching for if you sincerely try and turn to God in prayer and by seeking a deeper, loving, personal, and intimate relationship with Him. Jesus had that type of relationship with his Father.
Work on and continue building this relationship with your Heavenly Father and He will grant you all the strength and power needed to help you break these verbal chains of bondage. He can set you free from using the ungodly chatter of murmuring and complaining.