Grumbling: when we forget God’s goodness

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In the Book of Exodus, God had worked in mighty ways for the Israelites. He had brought a series of plagues against the Egyptians. He dramatically parted the waters of the Red Sea. Once the Israelites were in the desert, God continued to lead. But through a series of uncertain events, the Israelites continued to respond by grumbling.

They ran low on water. Israel grumbled. God provided water. They didn’t have food. Israel grumbled. God provided food. After all that the Lord had done, the people should have trusted that God would provide.

But their struggle is one that we too can have. In spite of all of the ways how God has provided for us, blessed us, sustained us, in a time of adversity, it can be easy to fall into grumbling and doubt.

But this isn’t God’s desire for us. He wants us to live in faith.

We can be so quick to forget what God has done, how he’s blessed us.
Forgetting can lead to unbelief and faithlessness.
Let us actively remember the blessings of the Lord in our lives.
We forget about his past blessings and forget about his future promises.
And so we grumble.
God is the Lord of our past, present, and future.
God has promise all of his children a wonderful and glorious future.
And between now and then, he has not abandoned us in the desert.
God is God of your life today.
If you’ve placed faith in Jesus, you know that you’re a sinner, saved by grace, and know that Jesus saved you, you have that to thank God for.
Ad that’s the most important thing of all.
He redeemed you. He saved you from the penalty of sin. To remember that the Lord is good. The Israelites lose sight of that.
To remember that God made everything and that everything belongs to him.
You’re here today. Which means that God has provided for you up to this point in your life. For some of us, it might not have always been easy.
There might have been times of real hardship.
But we’ve made it to this moment.
It’s easy to forget.
For some of us, when a blessing gets answered, we might celebrate for a moment, but it can be easy to just move on to the next thing to stress about.
And we can go through so much of our lives grumbling, complaining to God, feeling like he hasn’t given us enough.
For the Israelites, they’ve seen God act in mighty ways, but then they go right back to worrying.
The Israelites face difficult situations. And they choose to grumble instead of trust.
Part of the root of a grumbling heart is one that loses sight of the sovereignty of God.
I mentioned earlier that it was God who had led Israel to their circumstance between the Egyptians and the sea. It was no accident.
It was God who was leading the Israelites in the desert. It’s so easy to lose sight of the divine hand of God at work in our lives. Israel did. In our passages, they actually don’t even grumble directly to God. They actually grumble to Moses and his brother Aaron.
As if it was their fault.
Nothing happens outside of the sovereign will of God.
And while they might have directed their complaints to Moses and Aaron, the real displeasure of the people was with God.
God is God of all circumstances.
Job 12:10 refers to God and says:
In his hand is the life of every living thing
and the breath of all mankind.
Grumbling is a lack of trust in God. Grumbling is feeling like God hasn’t give us enough. It’s a sense that perhaps God isn’t good.
Grumbling is turning away from God. It’s complaining to others, it’s ignoring the goodness of God, and is not rooted in the truth of the character of the Lord.
We don’t like the unknown.
Israel didn’t know how they’d get water, they didn’t know how they’d get food. And even with the promises and presence of God, they didn’t know how it was all going to work out.
At a certain point, you need to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
I think we sometimes look at the Old Testament. We see the things God did there and think “well yeah, it’d be easy to believe back then.” But people still often struggled, even when seeing incredible signs and miracles that the Lord was doing.
Because it’s not constant wonderment and awe. We live in the real world and it’s really imperfect.
But when we don’t know what’s going to happen, when we don’t see the clearest path of how we’re going to get to a destination, let me challenge you today.
Instead of doubting or being a catastrophist, instead look to God and see how he’s going to work.
Do you have a situation in your life right now? That’s causing you stress? That’s robbing you of joy? That’s distracting you from God and where you’re tempted to grumble?
Let me challenge you in that situation to consider that the same God who’s blessed your life, the same Lord who came into the world and died so that you be reconciled to him, the same God who has made you eternal and glorious promises is also your God for today.

Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.



Categories: Bible, Church, Commentary, Faith, Theology

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