This week at OBS we’re on Chapter 7 of Tracie Miles’ book, Stressed-Less Living, but I want to backtrack to something from Chapter 6 first. On page 133, Tracie writes, “Complaining is nothing more than grumbling in our hearts against God. It is assuming that we know better than God (there goes the pride problem again) and that he is not handling the situation as we would like.”
Ouch! During Chapter 4, I wrote the post “Power Surge”. That year I was a mega-grumbler: I grumbled that we lived in Missouri, grumbled about the way I was treated at work, grumbled about the constant pain I was in (I have severe osteoarthritis in my spine), grumbled about leaving a building where my support system was, grumbled about not having a church home, grumbled that my son was going to Afghanistan, grumbled that my daughter was going to college so far away, etc. One day as I studied Numbers, I painfully realized that I was not only complaining to my husband and in a constant bad mood, but that I was also grumbling about what God had provided for me:
The whole community was in an uproar, wailing all night long. All the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The entire community was in on it: “Why didn’t we die in Egypt? Or in this wilderness? Why has God brought us to this country to kill us? Our wives and children are about to become plunder. Why don’t we just head back to Egypt? And right now!” (Numbers 14:1-3)
What a big time light-bulb moment for me!!! God had performed all these miracles to release the Israelites from 400 years of Egyptian slavery, and then they grumbled (and continued to grumble) against God?? Was I any different from them in my reactions to my own situations? Ochie mama…pruning sure does hurt!!
The Apostle Paul wrote four letters during his imprisonment: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. Here’s a few things Paul included in these letters while he was imprisoned:
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. (Colossians 4:2-4)
Did Paul ask for prayer that he’d be released from prison? Did he complain about being in prison or how badly he was being treated? Did he ever once complain how God had left him? NO!!!! He encouraged the saints from his jail cell and humbly asked for prayer that God open doors for him to share the Gospel!! “One of the biggest mistakes that Christians make is seeing the giants in our lives as so huge that we lose sight of the fact that God is bigger.” (page 141 of Stressed-Less Living) Paul never took his eyes off Jesus!! During my time of big time grumbling, I learned that I had been just focusing on me and my own circumstances, and that taking my eyes off Jesus is prideful. When I turned my grumbling into praise and thanksgiving, I was able to handle the giants I was facing—and I also learned that they weren’t as big as I perceived them. God IS here and He IS bigger than any trial, obstacle and/or circumstance we may face!!