I’m at my absolute wits end. It has been one of those days. If you are a mother then you know exactly what I’m talking about. Seemingly nothing has gone the way it should’ve today (see Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day for further explanation).
The hot water heater died, car didn’t start so we had to get a jump start from the neighbor, left home without the favorite toy, lost my debit card, toddler got sick in the car, naps did not happen, I have various bodily fluids on my shirt. And then my 3 year old decides to have a melt down because we are out of juice and he has to choose between milk and water. AND we need to have eaten supper and be ready to leave for Wednesday night services in 30 minutes. Meanwhile, the baby is crying in the background.
My first thought is to demand that everyone just stop. Stop the yelling. Stop the complaining. Stop the whining and JUST BE HAPPY for crying out loud! This day has been hard enough as it is. Instead, I take a deep breath and ask “Why can’t you just be happy with what you have? Why do you have to complain about what I’ve given you? You have everything you need and still you aren’t happy.”
As soon as the words leave my mouth I realize the irony in them. How often do I myself act that way towards God? He so richly provides us with what we need to survive (and most often thrive) yet we still complain. We find things to be unhappy about. Have we learned nothing from the Israelites? So what does God say about it?
“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
I am in no way suggesting that a Christian’s life is sunshine and rainbows 24/7 and that we complain for no good reason. There are most definitely hard times, discouraging times even. There are times when we can (and should) cry out to our Father.
“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?”
“With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before Him; I tell my trouble before Him.”
And God does want to hear about it! He wants to hear about our day. He wants to know what is troubling us. He wants to help because He made us and He loves us. We cannot solve our problems alone.
No, often times the actual complaining is not the real problem. Who do we complain to? Where do we turn for help? For our children, we fill that role. We give them comfort, understanding, love, correction, advice. Our heavenly Father offers the same to us in His word.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:6
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
God wants His children to come to Him for help. He wants to be there for us. But what I think we do need to remember more often (myself included) is that we are so richly blessed already. By the grace of God, we have salvation. We can be forgiven of our sins, through the powerful blood of Christ.
God does not want his children to walk around in a state of discontent. We are called to be lights in this world of darkness (Matt. 5:16). How are we to do that if we are always focused on our troubles? How are we to lead others to Christ if we are focused on what we do not have ourselves? Friends, we have everything in Christ Jesus! We have eternal life, hope of a heavenly home with Him!
When we have days like the one I described above, perhaps the world would tell us that “The sun will come up tomorrow!” or “Tomorrow’s another day.” But children of God know that tomorrow isn’t promised. We are put on this earth to follow God’s teachings and lead others to Christ. We are His children.
We need to remember that for ourselves and for the example we set for our children. They will either learn how to follow God or how not to from us. Do we grumble and complain? Do we have a child’s perspective on contentment, that it is a ridiculous notion? Or are we content with what we have? Happy with all that God has given us? How we choose to live our lives will be the answer to these questions.