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Do you grumble? As I have been preparing for this week of fasting from complaining, I have been noticing how often I complain and grumble. I grumble to my wife in the morning about the cat waking me up in the night. I grumble about the all the projects I want to do on the house but haven’t had time to get to yet. I grumble about people I know and love dearly. I grumble about strangers driving down the road, especially when they cut me off or drive slow in front of me when I have somewhere ‘important’ to be. I grumble about medical bills, the cost of groceries, and the seemingly endless supply of pine cones that fall in my yard. I have even caught myself saying to the air, “Why do I have to do this?” Of course I wasn’t just saying it to the air. I was grumbling to God. I was grumbling against God: “It’s not fair!”
At the root of all grumbling and complaining is what we think is fair. We define fair as when we come out ahead and everyone else comes out behind. James 5:9 says, “Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” When we grumble we make ourselves the judge of what is right and wrong for us and for others. But Scripture teaches that there is only one Judge, and we are not Him.
The ancient Israelites were famous for being a grumbling people. Most famously, they grumbled against Moses and God on 10 different occasions during their time in the desert afer being delivered out of Egypt. God was literally hovering over them every day, giving them shade from the scorching heat every day, and they grumbled. He was providing all of their food and water, and still they grumbled. We are a grumbling people too. When we grumble, we doubt the goodness of God and the goodness of the life He has given to us.
This week I challenge you to give thanks for the life God has given you, instead of questioning His goodness and grumbling against Him. When you are tempted to complain, turn that wasted energy into productive thanksgiving. I recommend using the Litany of Thanksgiving (BCP p. 836) or the following prayer of thanksgiving:
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies, that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to your service, and by walking before you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.