Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Beneath The Shadow Of The Cross"1 (Lyrics)
Numbers 21:4b-5a – But the people grew impatient with the long journey, and they began to speak against God and Moses. (NLT)
Riding roller coasters is not my forte.
I recall getting on Thunder Road at Carowinds Theme Park once — and only then to please a girlfriend. I clung to my seat — and my girlfriend — as the row of cars inched its way to the top of the first mountain. I held my breath as my car began its breathtaking descent through the valleys and curves to follow. No loops. No corkscrews. Just up and down and around curves at breakneck speed. I sighed a breath of relief when the string of cars finally stopped.
I've also ridden another type of roller coaster — one the ancient Israelites rode on quite often: the complainer's roller coaster. God had delivered them from four hundred years of slavery, but that wasn't good enough. They quickly disobeyed Him and were sentenced to forty years of wilderness wandering. Even then, He ensured that they had food, water, and shelter. That wasn't good enough, either. They complained about what He gave, as well as the timing of His giving it.
The Israelites didn't complain continuously, nor do I. Like a roller coaster, my complaining is up and down. It's enough, however, I'm sure, to rattle God's nerves. Some maintain that complaining doesn't change a thing. Often it does, but there are healthier ways to effect change than through a griping attitude.
Complaining shows lack of appreciation for how God cares for us. We may think that we know best how God should meet our needs, but only a God Who can peer into the future really does. A faith walk lives not by sight but by trust in a God Who is all-knowing and unconditionally loving.
Our complaints reveal that we doubt God's goodness. God is good all the time. Our definition of good may vary from His, but we must trust that He has our best interests at heart.
When we complain, we question God's methods. His ways are higher than ours and are often beyond our ability to understand. He is God; we are not.
Much better than complaining is our willingness to accept our situations, to be content in them, and to ask God what He is trying to teach us through them. Complete trust takes us off the complainer's roller coaster.
If you're riding the complainer's roller coaster, ask God to get you off.
Prayer: Father, prompt us to ride the roller coaster of thankfulness rather than complaining. Amen.