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?
- Do you tend to be a grumbler? If so, how would your life change if you didn’t?
- 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?
- 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?