More Often Simply Laugh

Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron; the whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt!’    (Num. 14:1-2)

This past year I attended a Christmas Eve service at the church I had served more than twenty-five years ago. At the end of the service an interesting and telling thing happened.

Two people came to me and began to wrangle about what had happened during the service. One person said, “It just wasn’t Christmas Eve without the incense.” The other person said, “If we had had incense I couldn’t sing.” As they went back and forth they turned to me to arbitrate. Even though I was no longer the pastor they still wanted to draw me into their grumbling.

I just began to laugh. It was so ridiculous. There was nothing I could do. I wasn’t the right person to fix things. I then remembered that I’d allowed those very same people to pull me into the very same controversy many years before. I said to them, “My friends, you can’t complain to me anymore. I haven’t been in charge for a long time.”

Driving home chuckling about those two grumbling people, I thought about how constantly Moses had to deal with the grumbling of the Israelites. Moses had faced down Pharoah; he’d led the people through the Red Sea; he’d received and delivered the Ten Commandments; he was taking them to the Promised Land; and still they grumbled.

My take-away from that episode at church was simple and important. I was sorry I’d paid so much attention to the grumbling during my ministry. Sorry that I’d taken it so seriously and so personally. Sorry that I didn’t more often simply laugh—maybe not outwardly but inwardly, for most grumbling is about nothing.

Today’s encouragement is for you to consider what my “sorrys” might be saying to you. Consider this as well: When I did laugh at these two grumbling folks they, too, laughed.

If I had taken the grumbling less seriously, I could have saved myself so much worry and anxiety, and I could also have defused so many tense situations. How much could you save and defuse if you did as well?

Reflection Questions:

  1. Do you tend to be a grumbler? If so, how would your life change if you didn’t?
  1. What are the things you grumble at? Now, be honest: How many of those things much matter? How much time has been wasted doing so? How has your grumbling hurt others?
  1. If indeed you took some of the grumbling that comes your way less seriously, what would be saved and what would be defused in your work or relationships?


2 thoughts on “More Often Simply Laugh

  1. Carol Duncan

    In caring for my 89 year old father there is much grumbling on both sides. As age affects us both we grumble at our loss of control. I find if I use humor in these situations our mood is lighten and things are not so grim. Most times I am surprised at the things that come out of my mouth. I believe that is when I let go and let the Holy Spirit into our conversations. We are much happier then. The world will drag us down if we let it. Keep holding on to Jesus.

  2. John Madison

    Hi Jim…I hope you remember me. I’m John who attended St. Peter’s in Maine while you were pastor there. I’m glad I found your blog.

    In reading your post I recall how as a young minister I took people’s grumbling too much to heart, and eventually let it send me running from the ministry. But i have found other avenues of service to God’s little ones these last few years, older and hopefully, a bit wiser.

    As I remember, your words hold much wisdom. God bless.

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