Thursday, August 21, 2014

Life-Changing Verse on Grumbling

            How would you define “contempt”?  An outright hatred for or despising of someone?  Being deliberately malicious or looking down on others? 
            What if I told you that contempt toward God is not so much “despising Him” as it is “grumbling about our lives and refusing to trust Him despite the care He’s shown us in the past”?
            In Numbers 14, we read about how God viewed the grumbling that the Israelites did in the desert.  They grumbled about the food, the water, the walking, the obstacles, the set-backs, etc.  They grumbled about everything.  And in Numbers 14:11, we read this: “The Lord said to Moses, ‘How long will these people treat me with contempt?  How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?”
            Grumbling about our unpleasant circumstances is not just “being honest” or “being understandably upset or concerned.”  It is contempt for Him because it is essentially showing doubt about and disapproval of His care for us.  It is passing judgment on His ability to be God in our lives.        
            The thing is, I think that there would have been a much different outcome if the Israelites had humbly sought God and prayed about their needs.  But instead of humbling themselves before God and coming to Him with their needs, they complained to others about their circumstances. 
            When we complain to others about what’s going on in our lives, it is grumbling.  And that is contempt for God.  But when we “complain” to God about our concerns and needs, it is prayer.  And I don’t mean “complaining” as in griping to God about all that He’s doing “wrong,” but talking to Him about all of our fears, doubts, problems, concerns, feelings, etc.  One is about judging how God works and about setting ourselves up over Him; and the other is about humbling ourselves before Him, drawing nearer to Him in the pain and confusion, and learning to trust Him even when things are not going our way. 
            I’m not saying that it’s always easy to trust God and to accept His ways.  But it’s a whole lot better than going our own way, making messes that didn’t have to happen if we had just learned to trust and to rest in God in the first place. 
            But it takes time to learn to trust Him, to walk with Him long enough that we can believe in Him despite setbacks and trials.  It takes facing - working through – doubts, fears, negative feelings, and negative thoughts.  And this means learning that it’s okay to have doubts, fears, negative feelings, and negative thoughts, as long as we honestly, humbly bring them to God instead of trying to put on a “good face” and be the pleasing, proper “good Christian” that we think we are supposed to be.  Why do we keep sharing our real feelings and thoughts with others but try to polish ourselves up when approaching God who knows us better than anyone?
            I think the best place to start learning to trust is this: stop grumbling to others (or to ourselves) and start being transparent with the Lord about our concerns, doubts, fears, and feelings.  Complaining to others is contempt for God, and it divides you and the Lord.  But “complaining” to God is prayer and it draws Him closer to your hurting heart.
            Psalm 34:17-18: “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”