“…give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”1 Thessalonians 5:18
In 2010, as I went down the ramp to board the first plane on my return trip to Germany from the US, I heard the stewardess announce, “There is no more room in the overhead bins, so the rest of you passengers will have to check your carry-on.”
I was not happy with that news! My carry-on was packed with personal things, many of which I wanted to use on the trip. Fortunately, most of these were in my backpack in my carry-on. I took it out, surrendered my carry-on case with wheels, and made my way back to my seat, all the while complaining in my heart about this injustice.
How easily I fall, how significant a seemingly small decision can be, how dangerous is the innocuous sin of complaining. It rises from unbelief and rebellion against what God has brought. It comes from pride, from fear, from selfishness, from listening to self rather than the Spirit.
Without confession and repentance, I was defenseless. I was down and Satan just kept shooting me with one fiery arrow after another: fear, selfishness, self-pity and more complaining.
It was a painful, joyless time before the Spirit gave insight through my journalling, as I lifted my soul to Him and He helped me see where I had committed my initial, tactical sin of choosing to grumble instead of praising.
Then I could confess, surrender and be healed. After that I could easily raise the shield of faith and joy could flow again. I had to choose to live the truth that knowing Jesus is enough for joy, period!
In God’s eyes complaining is a serious, destructive and deadly sin: it attacks faith and trust; it questions His goodness and wisdom; it dishonors Him as we reject His gifts.
That’s why He reacted so strongly to the Israelite’s complaining and grumbling: “And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp” (Num. 11:1).
But praise God that He is faithful, that He brings us back to Himself, into the light so we can be healed, restored and restrengthened. Then we can again put on the armor He has provided so that we can “take up the shield of faith with which you can quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one” that “you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11,16).
Prayer: “Lord, help me to keep on the armor of God every day, and especially to raise the shield of faith by giving thanks in every circumstance so that you may have more glory. Amen.”