November 24, 2013
READ: Numbers 11:1-15
Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. Then the Lord’s anger blazed against them, and He sent a fire to rage among them (v.1).
Ravi and Prakash received redundancy notices from their employer, an insurance company that was being downsized by its new owner. “Once again the little man gets squeezed,” sighed Prakash, “is this the thanks I get for 15 years of loyal service?”
“Yeah, this stinks,” replied Ravi, “but God is still with us if we continue to trust Him, even in hard times.” “Seriously?” blurted Prakash. “Faith isn’t going to keep a roof over our heads or feed our kids. Where is God now? Why won’t He protect what He knows we deserve? I wish I had looked out for myself—inflated my commissions like everyone else—at least I’d have a little nest egg built up.”
Ravi and Prakash illustrate the difference between groaning and grumbling. We’re right to groan beneath the burdens of a fallen world, for “all creation has been groaning” right along with us. But we groan in hope, believing that one day all will be made right when Jesus returns to set us free “from sin and suffering” (Romans 8:22-23).
Groaning that lacks this faith soon turns into grumbling, for we feel alone and defeated in the world. The Israelites complained during their journey through the wilderness: “Oh, for some meat! . . . We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt” (Numbers 11:4-5). We can also allow our present sufferings to take our eyes off God. Perhaps this is why grumbling is such a serious matter. The apostle Paul warns, “Don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death” (1 Corinthians 10:10).
The only way to the Promised Land is through the wilderness of testing. You may groan when you’re tried. But never grumble. It’s truly a matter of life and death. —Mike Wittmer
Read James 1:2-18 to learn how to respond to the trials of life.
What trials are causing you to grumble? How can your identity in Jesus help you groan but not grumble in the days ahead?