A Remedy for our Discontent


 “It is always possible to be thankful for what is given rather than to complain about what is not given. One or the other becomes a habit of life.” –Elizabeth Elliot

In my early 30s, I posted this quote to my desk in my home office. I was struggling with the realities of infertility at the time and knew I needed that daily reminder to keep my focus off that ONE thing. We’ve all been there, right? Wanting something so much all our many blessings pale in comparison? But I didn’t want to become that person. Bitter. Complaining. Lacking in joy. So each day I would pray for a thankful heart.

It’s so easy to grumble and complain. You could say it’s the default mode for the human race. You don’t have to look very far in any crowd to find someone who isn’t happy about something. The food . . . the service . . . the government . . .  the roads. Oh, and one that hits way too close to home for me . . . the weather.  This tendency to complain about everything isn’t a new malady. While reading in Exodus yesterday,  I came across these words:

“. . . one month after leaving the land of Egypt. There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron.” [Exodus 16: 1-2 (emphasis mine)]

Wow. One month! Thirty days before this they were slaves in Egypt, crying out their God for deliverance. How had He shown them He was more than capable of taking care of all their needs? He had . . .

  • spared them from suffering with the Egyptians through nine plagues
  • passed over them and all their animals when death claimed all first born
  • freed them from slavery
  • heaped upon them the spoils of Egypt
  • pushed back an entire sea so they could pass on dry ground
  • totally decimated Pharaoh and his mighty army in the waters of the Red Sea
  • led them with a cloud by day and fire by night
  • turned bitter water sweet

And now, one month later, they’re complaining about Moses and Aaron because they don’t see how they are going to be fed. As Moses told them, “You are not complaining against us. You are complaining against God” [16:8] because by now, don’t you think they could trust Him?

What’s causing you to complain today? Ingratitude? Lack of trust? Fear? All of these were the root of the Israelite discontent. So next time you are tempted to complain, take a moment to remember. Focus on all the Lord has given you and turn those grumbles into a praise of thanksgiving.

Let all that I am praise the Lord;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
 Let all that I am praise the Lord;
may I never forget the good things he does for me.
 He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
 He redeems me from death
and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
 He fills my life with good things.
My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! [Psalm 103: 1-5]


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