Updated: Nov 14
"Express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event," (Dictionary.com). "To express grief, pain, or discontent," (Merriam Webster). Annoyance and discontent both stuck out to me in these definitions of complaining. I've found in my life that God is never enough for me. I keep reaching for everything else except His loving kindness. In this state of dissatisfaction, I lose sight of who God is and what He's done and simply become annoyed, irritated, and completely over serving and talking to the Lord. This comes out as a negative demeanor and affects many people.
Now on to the word fussing. It is defined by Merriam Webster as, "a state of agitation especially over a trivial matter." I always compare fussing to a VERY whiny child who doesn't get their way. It turns from crying and stomping to hitting, kicking, screaming, and a complete melt down because someone told them no. We make fun of, or rather, I make fun of kids who do this.....YET, how many times do I do the same thing with God? I just talked about when I get annoyed at God I become "completely over serving and talking to the Lord." Hello?!?!? We are NO different than the crying, screaming child when God decides to say no or CHANGE something within our current dreams or situation. It is our born, sinful nature that brings about our first instinct to complain and fuss about life. So if it is our natural tendency, how much more is it brought about when an uncomfortable, maybe even unwanted, change occurs. Even a wanted change such as having a baby or getting married can bring about complaining and fussing. It is our natural born reaction to dissatisfaction within a relationship, circumstance, or outcome. The good news? YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Everyone struggles with complaining and fussing to some degree. If you say you don't? You're simply in denial.
Many people of the Bible complained or argued or were dissatisfied with changes in their life as well. In Numbers 11:1-3 the Israelites (God's chosen people, the people who were brought out of slavery by miracles and wonders, the people who were led by God Himself through clouds and fire) were complaining and fussing about their hardships at the time, their current circumstances of change and acceptance of their freedom. Yes, doesn't that sound truly absurd? I mean really? REALLY? Oh but it GETS BETTER! In chapter 21, these freed people complain about their lack of food and water as well as the cruel time the wilderness has been. Mind you, God made it rain down substance for them but apparently it wasn't good enough so they decided to fuss about it...
It is so easy to look at these people of the old testament and be like man they were truly ungrateful and a little dumb, and there is NO WAY I would be like that if I saw all of those miracles and experienced the Lord like they did. However, is God not the EXACT same today as He was back then? God provides for us right? The Lord over all creation still talks to us doesn't He? Is God leading and directing us? Doesn't He still free people daily? Hmmmm....... Yeah, it got me too. Why is it that we can't see God through our change but we can see Him through the Israelites? There was a purpose to each phase of their change and there is purpose to each of our changes as well! But if that isn't enough to convince you to stop complaining and fussing and thank God for his provision, salvation, direction, and oh so much more... Have you ever wondered how God feels about your complaining and fussing? I mean we sure let Him have it when we are unhappy and uncomfortable but what goes on in His mind?
"...and the Lord heard it; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and devoured those in the outlying parts of the camp," Numbers 11:1b. "they spoke against God...Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died," Numbers 21:5a, 6. And even still God makes sure we don't forget how he feels about complaining and fussing by putting these things in the NEW TESTAMENT. 1 Corinthians 10: 1-6, 9-10, "For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did....We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel."
Anger, fire, venomous snakes, death..... all a consequence of not being able to thank and worship the Lord. Even after God graciously lead them into freedom, fed them daily, gave them water from a rock, lead them by fire and cloud and oh so much more. You would think the Iraelites would have desired to thank and worship God. Maybe even learned from the first time God was angry and reminded them of His control and power (like freedom and provision were't enough). But still they chose to complain and fuss. These changes of circumstances, these not so fun conditions were still better than being enslaved.... Isn't the changes, trials, and uncomfortable situations still better than where you came from? Are you not close to others and God because of the change? Have you not read the miracles of the Bible? The miracle of salvation itself is worth the choice not to complain or fuss. I mean for crying out loud, if you know Jesus personally you don't have to burn alive for the rest of your life...What is there really to complain about after being rescued from that?
So now that we have all been convicted and put in our place by the Holy Spirit....how is the correct way to respond to change if complaining and fussing isn't correct? I believe the opposite of complaints and throwing a fit are thanksgiving and worship. The recognition of God's provision and of His mighty power and grace is a great place to start. How do we do that practically? Of course I have a list....
1. Name 10 things you are thankful for when you feel the urge to complain about something, or someone.
2. Before your feet hit the floor in the morning, say a prayer of thanksgiving and welcome God's presence into your day.
3. SAY YOU ARE SORRY to God when you do complain and lose sight of His grace.
4. Apologize to others for complaining and fussing to them, many times it brings about anger and irritation to the person listening as well.
5. Wear a rubber band and anytime you begin to say a complaint flick it. Eventually you'll want to stop experiencing the irritation ping!
6. Listen to worship music, anything that brings God glory, ALL THE TIME! (or until your perspective is changed).
7. Ask others how God has miraculously moved in their life. It is hard to miss God and find complaint in someone else's testimony.