By Robert Thomas
This past Sunday I got to visit home in Albuquerque after spending my first semester at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth. I am so happy to have this experience, and I am blessed in many ways. I have a great job, I am learning a lot about ministry, I have a family at home who loves me and is supporting me, and I enjoy life in the dorms. It seems like a complete picture.
However, recently I have been walking through a matter of my heart, which I have struggled with ever since moving to Fort Worth. I have been unnecessarily bitter about the silliest thing: I share a dorm room with a roommate.
It feels even sillier saying it out loud. How can I be in the midst of such an incredible experience, but I still harbor bitterness in my heart? It is childish and selfish; in spite of the blessings in my life, I have focused on this one thing I was unhappy about. Ignoring the fact that God has ordained that I would live with someone and that it is also a blessing, my heart was cold and angry.
I often found myself wondering why God would allow this to happen. In other words, I was acting spoiled rotten.
I have recently been reading about the Israelites in the books of Exodus and Numbers. They were a spiritually young people during this time. The Bible tell us the story of how God chose this people, then promised to protect and bless them. God had a master plan for Israel, as Exodus 19:3-6 tell us, and He intended to grow and protect them as they strove toward being the people He commanded them to be. However, the Israelites had a difficult mindset, and their tendency was to grumble and complain, responding faithlessly and without gratitude to the blessings their God was giving them.
Their story is characterized by rebellion and dissatisfaction with God, because when they heard the plan of God, they did not like it. Their reaction was like picky children rejecting their dinner. Even if they vocally agreed to follow God’s commands, their hearts were revealed in their attitudes and actions. The first generation of people coming out of Egypt, the generation God rescued with His own hands, died in the wilderness because of their lack of endurance, fear of God, and lack of faith in Him. It is tragic.
Does this not remind you of the attitudes people have today? Our world needs a savior now more than ever. People need the hope and forgiveness that comes from Jesus Christ, but even today, we are a people with the same attitude as the Israelites in the wilderness.
This is often true for believers and non-believers alike. Even when we think we see God working in our lives, we always find room to critique. We indulge in bitterness, and we are all too quick to cry out to God in dissatisfaction. We blame Him for our discomfort, focusing on ourselves. We grumble against Him, and in so doing, we show contempt for the things God has allowed us to go through. Just like how I found something to complain about at seminary, many times we will singularly focus on our own dissatisfaction, and we step into sin.
We should not act this way. As Job says in Job 2:10, will we really accept blessings from God, and not trouble? Why should we be so quick to argue against the wisdom of the God of Creation? Is our plan really better than His? Are we really so faithless as to grumble about our discomfort, when it just reveals our shortsightedness? Does God not work all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28-29)?
Remember this during this holiday season, and think about making the resolution in your own heart to avoid grumbling and complaining. Instead, put your faith in God, showing gratitude for the things He does, and honor Him with your actions.
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