Despising and Complaining: Tests of gratitude and belief

They first grabbed my attention several months ago, convicted me then and convict me still, and continue to make me ponder on them.  What does? The questions raised by Psalm 106: 24-25, that were like a mirror held to my heart.

Then they despised the pleasant land;
They did not believe His word,
But complained in their tents,
And did not heed the voice of the Lord.”

Question 1: Do I despise the good He has given and gives daily?

Despise seems like such a strong word. Maybe take for granted? Even feel entitled to?

I looked up the meaning of despise and one of the two provided by Merriman-Webster is,  “to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful.” Negligible – “so small or unimportant or of so little consequence as to warrant little or no attention.”

No way. I am not guilty of regarding the good He has given and gives as, “so small or unimportant or of so little consequence as to warrant little or no attention.” Am I?

Let me see. Sins forgiven. Clean water in my faucet. Ability to move without help and little or no pain. Redeemed from destruction. His unfailing compassion. Loving family. His unending mercies that are new every morning. Faithful friends. Ability to see (even if it is with spectacles or contact lenses) and to read. A world of color instead of grayscale. Humor. Laughter. Ability to feel touch and to touch. A job. Forgiveness. Grace for every situation, regardless of size or level of difficulty. Beauty in so many forms. The list is endless.

Yet … how many days can go by in which my, “Thank You” to Him is cursory, mechanical, perfunctory, instead of the genuine expression of a truly grateful heart? “They despised the pleasant land,” considered what He provided as negligible, “so small or unimportant or of so little consequence as to warrant little or no attention. Like them, I too am guilty, Father.

Question 2: Do I believe all of Your Word? Do I believe You? A simple test is the degree to which I complain and my obedience. ”They did not believe His word, but complained in their tents, and did not heed the voice of the Lord.”

Synonyms for complain include, “bellyache, fuss, gripe, grouch, grouse, grumble, grump, kick, kvetch, moan, murmur, mutter, nag, scream, squawk, squeal, whimper, whine, kick up a fuss.”  At the heart of complaining is unbelief, distrust. I cannot believe His promises and complain at the same time. The minute I start complaining, no matter how momentarily, I have stepped from a place of belief and trust to one of unbelief and distrust.

This perspective may seem extreme but let us test it with the well-known, and oft quoted Romans 8:28 We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose.” If I believe this to be true in and for all circumstances, no matter how strength draining, mind bending, disorienting, tsunami like pain triggering, I will not complain. I may howl in pain or may be rendered mute for a moment or a long time, but I will not complain. And when I do, it would be best for me to confess my unbelief, rather than use the, “I cannot help it. I am only human” card. I am human, it is true, but I have His power available to me at all times. Self-pity may provide temporary comfort but maturity must be my goal. It is His.

Do I believe all of Your Word? Do I believe You? The answer is not always, Abba. Not always. As evinced by my complaining and disobedience. I echo the words of the desperate father who wanted Jesus to deliver his son from demonic possession, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

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8 thoughts on “Despising and Complaining: Tests of gratitude and belief

  1. Thanks for opening my eyes to the verse in Psalms, E. I’m afraid I’m like you, “despising” and complaining in the “pleasant land.” Maybe we can paraphrase the desperate father’s prayer, “I’m grateful (at times), help my ingratitude.”

  2. Okay…this is good. Painful, but good. Thanks for shooting it straight, leaving no wiggle room. After reading some of your posts I now know I’ll be returning.

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