An Alternative to Complaining

Oh, how we love to complain.

It's our default setting whenever something doesn't go our way. And we're not alone.

I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus in my quest to read the Bible in a year. Almost without fail, every time the children of Israel had a need, they complained about it. They fretted. They whined. They lamented that God had abandoned them, and grumbled about how much better things were back in Egypt. 

Most of us probably aren’t wishing we were back in Egypt, but we often wish for “the good old days.” We complain, fret, and whine. 

Frightening circumstances and overwhelming odds? The Israelites complained against Moses. 

Bitter water to drink? The Israelites complained against Moses.

No food to eat? The Israelites complained against Moses. 

Absent in each of these wilderness crises, however, is what should have been their default response—prayer. It never occurred to the Israelites, with the exception of Moses, to take their needs to God. 

Oh, how I often walk in their fretful sandals. 

I can learn a valuable lesson from my shortsighted compatriots and from their leader, Moses. He saw their complaining, fretting, and whining for what it was—not a statement against their circumstances, but a complaint against God. 

“The Lord hears your complaints which you make against Him,” he said. “And what are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord” (Ex. 16:8). 


Every complaint I make isn’t really against my circumstances, but against the Lord. My grumbling goes straight from my mouth to God’s ears. 

In contrast, Moses had a different type of conversation with God. “So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him . . .” (Ex. 15:24). Every time Moses saw a need, he asked God to meet it. And God did. Gladly and generously. 

James 4:2 bluntly states the obvious: “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” 

Moses got it. So should we. 

What situation is making us whine and complain? What if we take it to the Lord and see what he will do?

Father, I confess the sins of grumbling and complaining. Please forgive me. Help me, instead, to bring everything to you in prayer, and then trust you to answer according to your wisdom and grace. Help me complain less and pray more. In Jesus’ name I ask, Amen.

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