God Loves Complainers
The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, “At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread.‘” – Exodus 16:11-12
Sometimes I want to give God parenting lessons.
Newly liberated from Egypt, the children of Israel soon complained about being in the wilderness. God responds like their personal waiter, delivering bread, quail and water.
That’s no way to raise responsible, self-sufficient people. I don’t give in whenever my kids complain. I’m more likely to lecture, point out how fortunate they are and how little they have to complain about! In other words, I complain.
Likewise, if we complain about the complaining Israelites, we send the message that complaint has no place in the life of faith. Aren’t faithful people supposed to be grateful and serene even when the chips are down? Not in the Bible.
In scripture, God is altogether fond of people who sing the blues when they are in a tight spot. The Book of Psalms, for example, often testifies to human suffering and calls on God to act. Job dumps his bucket with a dissertation of complaints against God’s mismanagement of the universe. From the cross, Jesus cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The miracle of the manna story is not the manna. The miracle is God heard the complaining of the Israelites in the wilderness and did not complain in return. God heard and God delivered.
Lord, there is no shortage of things to lament about in this world. Because I trust that you are listening, here are my top ten: (name your complaints, breathe, and know that God is on the move). Amen.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first book, The Spinner Prince, will be available March 9, 2018.