Week 37: When We Grumble Against God

When We Grumble Against God

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Week 37

Scripture Reading: Numbers 17-20

Key Scripture: Numbers 17:10

“The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” (NIV, Life Application Bible)

God has just executed Korah and his followers for inciting a rebellion against Aaron and Moses in an effort to take over the priesthood at the tabernacle. God has already provided for the Israelites with miracle upon miracle, has punished the Egyptians with plagues, and now has removed this new corruption. And, again, they grumble and complain. Here God says he has to stop their grumbling for their protection and for their own best interest. And he has to remind them by a sign, so they will stop complaining and remember how he has provided for them.

Throughout the Bible there are stories of God’s people rebelling, rejecting his love—sometimes I wonder why he keeps it up, keeps loving us when we are so ungrateful. The funny thing is that people think they know what’s best or what they want and then demand it of God, but when we are faithful to him and do his will, he provides above and beyond what we even imagine we want.

Reflecting on this reminds me of some visual artists I know. Sometimes they accept commissioned work, because those jobs usually pay well; but most of the time they don’t like doing it, because they are given too much instruction on how to do it and the final product does not exhibit their best work. What I observe is this—if the artist is able to do what he does best, the final product exceeds expectation. The painting is more creative and more beautiful, depicts a scene symbolically in ways the not-so-creative buyer could not have even begun to envision. Isn’t it this the same with God? He wants to love us and provide for us. When we let him do it his way, he provides in spectacular ways. But when we rebel or demand that God provide a certain way and he gives in to that, we miss what he would have provided.

Because of our will to choose and make decisions for ourselves, we often choose what’s not in our best interest. We sometimes try to take things into our own hands or we force the results, limiting God because of our rebellion, our grumbling.

Sometimes we ask for things in prayer and our requests are answered in remarkable ways. I have seen people have miraculous recovery from illness or be down on their luck and God has provided food and shelter for them. I have seen others receive the money they needed just in time to keep from having their electricity cut off. And some of us, even when we have been blessed by God and our prayers answered to our satisfaction, can accept his grace and then can easily forget how he was there for us in our darkest hours and become complacent when things are better, even grumble and complain when we have what we need.

Grumble, grumble, grumble! Instead of praising God for all that he does for us, we are quick to forget how he provides for our needs, become dissatisfied, skeptical, bitter. When we develop attitudes like that, it separates us from Him. When we lose faith, we sin against God, and we lose out. If we could only trust him to do what he does best—we would be blessed beyond our wildest expectation!

If we could only stop our grumbling and be grateful for God’s blessings. If we could only trust him to do it his way.

I don’t want to keep settling for less, do you?

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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