Controlling a Complaining Spirit
Glynnis Whitwer

"Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp." Numbers 11:11 (NIV)

As we were getting ready to leave for vacation, one of my children asked for a new video game to play on the drive. Knowing all of our available funds were ear-marked for the trip, I told my child "no" and explained in a compassionate and clear reason why I would not be spending money on a video game prior to a vacation. I explained how much fun we would have and how much this fun would cost. Which, as I was sure he understood, did not leave money for buying video games.

At what I thought was a perfectly logical explanation, that same child, who should have been agreeing with me and trying to find ways to help make this wonderful vacation happen, actually got annoyed. With me. He said, with a very frustrated voice, that he never got anything he wanted. Accompanied with a heavy dramatic sigh, crossed arms and pout.

The tone of his voice, his negative words, and his dramatic body language, raised my eyebrows (I would have only raised one if I could). My back straightened and one hand rose to my hip. "Really?" I said in a low and deceptively calm voice. "You never get anything you want? On the day before we are leaving for an amazing trip that your father and I have worked hard to give you, you can actually say that you have nothing you want?"

Can I just tell you that an ungrateful spirit really is really hard for me to deal with? Especially when I know what is in store.

Sometimes I wonder if that must be how God feels when I grumble about what I don't get. Like when I went through infertility for three years before getting pregnant … three times … then adopting. In hindsight, God was really giving me three more years of wearing a size ten and a brain that could finish a complete thought. At that time, all I saw was emptiness.

The truth is, my child was just demonstrating a human reaction to being told "no" or "not now" by someone who knows what the future holds. Sometimes God withholds a "yes" knowing we need to be prepared to receive His goodness in His time. Other times, when we've been told "no" due to our own bad choices or those of others, God withholds a "yes" to teach us something. Or it's a permanent "no" to protect us. Whichever way, God is always working things together for the good of those who love Him.

I don't think my son ever fully understood why I said "no" to the video game. But over time, as he grew and matured, he learned to trust me more, and believe that I really loved him in spite of saying "no." Even as adults, we have trouble understanding God's ways. Sometimes we may never understand. When that happens, I choose to do a few things that help me mature as a believer. Maybe they will help you too:

1) I choose to not complain to others about God.
2) I am honest with God about how I feel, but I don't accuse Him of evil or being out to hurt me. 3) I choose to trust Him. When the doubts start to surface, I choose again to trust Him again.
4) I sing His praises. It reminds me of God's true character, which is always good.

Hearing "no" is never easy. However, as children of a loving Heavenly Father, we can learn over time to trust that He really does have something planned that we are going to love more than what we want right now. When we trust God is working behind the scenes for us, we can control a complaining spirit that threatens to steal our joy. And restore our faith in God's goodness.

Dear Lord, I know I'm often like a child when I get told "no." Help me to understand in my head and in my heart, that You truly love me, and that You are planning something good. Forgive me when I doubt You and voice those doubts in a complaining way. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
If you are a mom who needs help dealing with common issues your child faces, you’ll enjoy When Your Child is Hurting by Glynnis Whitwer

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue by Deborah Smith Pegues

Visit Glynnis’ blog

Application Steps:
Read Numbers 11. Write God's response to the complaining of the Israelites.

What does complaining to others reveal about your character at that moment?

What are some things you can do to stop the complaining cycle and start being more positive?

Power Verses:
Psalm 142:2, "I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble." (NIV)

Philippians 2:14-15, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." (NIV)

© 2010 by Glynnis Whitwer. All rights reserved.

Labels: , , , , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, so after last night when God didnt answer me in the way i expected him to.... this mornings devotion feels like a slap on the face... and a reality check. i allowed the devil to lie to me that God didnt care enough to give me my hearts desires. After speaking to a friend, she reminded me not to listen to peoples account but ask God to speak to me and reveal to me whats his plans concerning the situation that i am going through. Todays devotion is heaven sent. Thank you God for always being faithful and for teaching me all the time... i love you with all my heart and soul.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not think I have ever complained to anyone about God. I have however complained alot. I am the world's worst complainer when things do not go right. So this devotion really made me stop and think about my actions. I want to stop complaining and be satisfied with what happens in my life. I know I cannot control things in my life that it is up to God. When things just do not go my way this devotion makes me want to stop and be thankful for all the things I do have. Denise

I love when God speaks through situations... thank you for sharing!

Blogger Familyof6inTX said...

As someone who has wondered at times if God really was out to get me, I really needed this reminder. I always know deep down that He has my best in mind, but when things go wrong even when I think I am doing the right thing it is hard to remember that. Thanks again for reminding me that He does listen but we also need to approach Him in a way that allows him to be receptive to our concerns.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I to... received the "Not now" answer today and was confused and asked God why? Then I told my husband and he said ..look, we have another day to pray about it. God showed me the sensible God loving husband I have instead. Thank you God for teaching me a different lesson today :)

this is a REALLY painful time for me right now. I hope someone else can feel my pain. God has been stripping things away from me, people, cultural norms and comforts and i tell you sometimes it feels like HE's killing me, for example I had my little life all planned out husband and all, well God said no. AND is pointing me in a direction I don't even desire AND i am like a spoiled child...trying not to cry or complain about it, but simply be grateful for what He has provided. Sometimes it doesn't seem fair, but I know my life is not alla about me, even though at times this is a HARD pill to swallow, that GOD might make me forego something that makes me happy for the sake of something that's good better or blesses somebody else.Meaning i don't get anything out of it...but God is a fair God and sometimes you are blessed and are on the side where you are witnessing everybody else be blessed before you see yours and if you see it.. And about the children thing, i totally have a problem with comparing my life to others, and I am TRYIING to not do it, to be content with whatever pleasure or pain He desires for me and like it....PLEASE EAT YOUR thanks for this...i think? OUCH.

Blogger Glynnis Whitwer said...

To the last commenter - I TOTALLY get your pain. Twelve years ago I moved across country because my husband wanted to and I was bitter, resentful, angry and without joy. And I was a strong Christian.

Sometimes circumstances pile up so much that we are overwhelmed with loss. If they came at us one at a time, we could handle it. But when they arrive as a group, it feels like too much.

Thank you for being honest. I'm praying this will only be a season for you. Spend time in God's Word and see if you don't find some answers and comfort.

I've been there, and now I can see that God had to do something drastic to get through to me and re-direct my life.

He's up to something!!! And it will be good in the end. Hang in there.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thank God for this message and for this website. You are such a blessing guys! Continue to inspire a lot of women. God bless you more and more!

Post a Comment


Site Search
Recent Devotions
Articles About...
Grab our button!