Bread – Grumble

April 30, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, April 30, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Exod. 15:22-16:10; 1 Pet. 2:1-10; John 15:1-11; Psalms 12,13,14,119:1-24

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There are some words which sound like what they mean. “Grumble” and “grumbler” are two of those words. When you say the word “grumble,” you can just hear yourself muttering anger and frustration at whatever your object of grumbling is. If we are children, we grumble against our parents. If we are adults, we grumble against our bosses, our lives, the federal government, or just the world in general. If we find ourselves in church, we grumble against God. Shoot, we may grumble against God all the time and forget our parents, lives, politics, or our work. God is a convenient target to grumble against, and if we are honest with ourselves, we probably do it a lot.

In our lesson today, we find the Israelites thirsty and hungry. Their reaction is not to find water or food, or even to fall on their knees in supplication and prayer to the great God who has delivered them from slavery. No, their reaction is to grumble against their leaders, Moses and Aaron. But as Moses says in today’s reading, “…He has heard your grumbling against the Lord. For what are we, that you grumble against us?…Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.” Exod. 16:7b-8

There is a great truth behind what Moses has just said. When we complain about our circumstances, about our job, about our living conditions, about our family, about our government, about each other – who are we really complaining about? The truth is that when we grumble about our circumstances, we are really accusing the Lord of treating us unfairly. When we grumble, we grumble against the Lord.

There is a great sign which contains the circle with the line through it (the international symbol for “No”) superimposed over a baby crying, with the words above or below it saying “No Whining!”

Does Scripture have a “No Whining” sign in it?

In a very real sense, the answer is “No.” In today’s reading from Exodus, Israel grumbles against the Lord because they have no water and no food. God responds by sending them both, the water through the instrument of His person Moses and the bread and meat through His sovereign direct action.

Many people would say that the answer is “Yes, there is ‘no grumbling’ sign.” However, I think that this is a projection of the truth that we have been so blessed in our lives, first by our salvation by grace and the second by God’s preservation of us in the evil day, that we “should not” grumble. The Israelites had just been delivered from their prison into freedom by God’s multiple miracles. They had absolutely no reason to grumble because they were the chosen people of God, under His protection and providence, but grumble they did. And God heard their grumbling and responded to their need. He did not hit them over the head with a “No Whining” sign, but He did remind them that blessing occurs when they are obedient.

Grumbling is not banned by God and, quite frankly, it should not be discouraged by us.

The reason is quite simple. When we grumble to God, we are acknowledging that He is God. Yes, we only complain to the people who we think can do something about it. We complain about our parents to our grandparents because we think our grandparents can do something about it. We complain to a co-worker about our job, thinking that that co-worker has some kind of special “in” with the boss whereby your complaint can be taken care of. We grumble about the government because we think that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and we want “our share.” Because we complain only to those who we think “can make it better,” the fact is that when we grumble to God we not only acknowledge His deity, but we then have to acknowledge only Him when the cause of our grumbling is over.

See, the people of Israel grumbled to Moses because they were more inclined to give power, trust, and recognition to their human leaders than they were to the God who appointed those leaders. Moses, a man of God, would not accept the grumbling directed at Him because he wanted his people to honor God by grumbling to Him. It was not Moses who turned the water sweet (see Exod. 15:25), but God through His agent Moses who did so. It is not man who reigns, but God.

We all grumble, complain, whine. Who we grumble to tells a lot about who we believe is in control.

Who have you grumbled to or about today?

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© 2014 GBF

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