“When the Lord heard your complaining, he became very angry. So he solemnly swore, ‘Not one of you from this wicked generation will live to see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see this land because he has followed the Lord completely. I will give to him and his descendants some of the very land he explored during his scouting mission.’ (Deuteronomy 1:35-36 New Living Translation)
Ingratitude laced with grumbling, complaining, and murmuring is an easy trap to fall into. And it is so contagious. Someone grumbles and the next thing you know, you fall right in line and start grumbling too. I wonder if that’s what happened in the wilderness as the Israelites made one more trek around Mount Sinai. “I’m sick of this manna,” one complained. Then another looked at God’s sweet provision and said, “Come to think of it, I’m sick of it too.” The next thing you know the sea of ingrates becomes a tidal wave of grumblers and God sends them on another lap around the wilderness and places a “Do Not Enter” sign in front of the Promised Land.
When you think about it, ingratitude is a casual despising of God’s sovereignty. It’s like saying we don’t like how He is running things and think we could do it better.
Gratitude and giving thanks in all things opens our eyes to see God’s glory in even the smallest things. On the other hand, ingratitude blinds our eyes to God’s presence, and we miss His advances all around. It’s a choice, not an emotion. However, this choice to give thanks may very well open the way for positive emotions such as joy to emerge and take hold. Paul wrote: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again (because you probably didn’t get it the first time): Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4, parentheses mine).
There is nobody more miserable than an ungrateful person. Margaret and I were chatting about gratitude when she mentioned how she tries to steer clear of those who grumble and complain because their ingratitude is so contagious. “I hate calling my sister,” she mused. “I mean, I love her. But talking to her is such a joy drain.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“All she does is complain. Something is always wrong with her house. She always has a new ailment. She gives me the latest obituary report and tells me who is sick with what. A couple of times I tried to cheer her up. You know, help her see the positive side of things. ‘At least you have a house. Think of all those people who lost their homes in the hurricane.’ But it only made her mad. She said I was not being sympathetic and that I made little of her problems. So now I just listen.”
Another friend told me of sitting with his father discussing the distribution of his “worldly goods,” when the time came to do so. “My dad had very little joy in his life,” Mike explained. “As we discussed who was going to get what when he died, I saw a pride in him I had never noticed before. ‘I did all this,’ he said as he waved his hand around the room like Vanna White. ‘I worked hard and earned it all.’ In his mind, he had earned it; he had done it all. Never once did he give thanks to God for all his blessings or acknowledge God’s goodness. He showed no gratitude, no thanksgiving, and certainly no joy”.
His things had become shiny shackles that kept joy at bay all his life. His things. How sad.
As Mike told me the story, I thought of Henry Ward Beecher’s words: “Pride slays thanksgiving…a proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.” Eyes shut tight to God’s glory.
I am reminded of an old saying that stirs and stings: “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” Always enough. Jesus thanked God for the two loaves and five fish… and there was more than enough to go around (John 6:1-13).
Today, make a commitment to turn you grumbling to grateful, your complaining into contentment, and your whining (did I just say that…yes I did) into praising God!
[Sometimes I open my Bible and simply pray the Psalms. Join me today!]
Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live, (Psalm 146:1). Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! (Psalm 147:1). Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. (Psalm 150:1-2). Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1). In Jesus’ Name I praise You! Amen.
What do You Think?
Do you feel far from God today? If so, maybe you’re knocking on the wrong door. What does Psalm 100:4 tell us about how we are to enter God’s presence?
If complaining were a color, what color would it be?
If being grateful, thankful and appreciative were a color, what color would it be?
Now, what color do you want to be today?
Leave a message and tell me you color. Say I’m _____ for grateful or I’m _________ for grumpy.
If you would like 2013 to be the year that you change your grumbling into grateful…that you get a handle on that little muscle with a big impact…your tongue, then check out my book, The Power of a Woman’s Words. It also has a Bible Study Guide and a DVD that is perfect for group studies or simply to dig deeper into God’s Word on your own.