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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Whine connoisseurs

It’s 6:24am and I have just given my infant son his bottle. I gaze into his little round face, get in one last snuggle and sniff before I lay him back down, when a thought passes through my drowsy brain: He never ever said thank you?

Not once!

No “thanks Mommy for getting up with me every hour on the hour to pop my pacifier back in my mouth since 3:30 this morning.” No “thanks for interrupting your dreams at 6 to make my favorite breakfast.” Occasionally I might get a smile or a coo, but this morning, not even that. In fact, he is fussing at me right now.

I am being a bit facetious because he is only four months old. But recently my annoyance regarding the lack of gratitude has been more authentic regarding two of my other children, who are ages 2 and 3.

What irritates me to no end is when we have had a wonderful, utterly child centered day. Say we have been to the mall playground and then to an “eat house” for their favorite meal: quesadillas and Sprite. As we walk back in the door of our home, one asks for a popsicle, Mommy says no, and all Hades breaks loose. Weeping and gnashing of teeth ensues. Then my annoyance is quite sincere.

I have been Perfect Sacrificial Mommy all day long. I have orchestrated my entire day around their pleasure. And now they are throwing fits because yet more sugar was refused by me, Responsible Mommy, who has only dental health and approaching bedtime at heart? Little ingrates! has thundered through my brain on such occasions.

Do you think God ever feels like I do?

Does he look at all he has given me, all that he has arranged for my pleasure, and get irritated when I throw a tantrum because I didn’t get a popsicle too?

Well, the Old Testament is full of God getting extremely irritated at his people’s ingratitude. From the very beginning, God gave Adam and Eve every single thing in the garden but one and they just aren’t satisfied and they just have to have that popsicle of Good and Evil, and here we are all now.

The main job of the Old Testament prophets was to tell the people, watch out, shape up, turn back to the Father with hearts of thanksgiving or he’s gonna blow. His righteous anger over their ingratitude led to the Babylonian captivity, for one thing, and possibly to the Flood. God's displeasure at their blatant lack of gratitude is most flagrant in Exodus.

He rescues the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt through a series of spell bounding miracles and as soon as they hit the desert, the whining begins. The result for the Israelites? No Promised Land for you, bellyachers. Your children will enter, but you will grumble to death here in the desert.

So what does God think when he surveys the beautiful, healthy, and oh so prayed for children that surround me while I whine about how tired I am?

Or when he sees me in the kitchen with my husband, the one I begged the Lord for 20 years, received by his grace, and now curse because he has forgotten to take out the trash?

Is he frustrated beyond belief while I sit in an beautiful, air-conditioned church that the martyrs died for and gripe about the music?

Praise be to God, he is not.

Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who laid his life down to deflect the wrath of the heavenly father, when God sees me, I think his heart dances in the same way mine does when my new son gives me a crooked smile. My sin is completely covered; my complaining has been washed away by the blood of the Lamb. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Because God truly is the perfect parent, by the grace and works of Christ I am in his eyes the perfect child! The phrase Little ingrate does not cross his mind when he sees me. He is never ever irritated at me. Whew.

So what is the issue? When my kids act that way, beneath the aggravation lies hurt. I know that they are young with no concept of empathy, so the hurt is currently small – but as they grow, it will grow as well. The feeling of ingratitude, of being unappreciated and possibly unloved despite my best efforts, cuts into my soul. Is this a reflection of God’s heart? Do I hurt him, do I grieve the Holy Spirit by my whining? Sadly, perhaps.

When I complain about an earthly situation, I am exhibiting an utter lack of appreciation of God’s providence.

Now I am not talking about laying our hearts before the Lord. The bible also has many examples of godly men and women crying out to God about a painful situation, and finding comfort and counsel in his loving presence. It is natural and right and even commanded that we call on him in the midst of our struggles and sadness.

I'm just talking about acting like a spoiled brat. Y'all know the difference.

In the margin of my bible is a note that I wrote the first time that I studied Exodus: “Grumbling is a sin.” When I grumble I am not complaining against the situation per se. I am audaciously complaining against the one who orchestrated the situation. In Exodus 16:8, Moses and Aaron told the Hebrews, “You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.” Apply that to my gripes and –the Ouch of conviction. I do not want to miss out on joy in the Lord, my own promised land, because I am too blinded by the imperfections of my situation to seek the beauty of his sovereignty.

At this point in my life, I can truly say that I have nothing to complain about. We are currently in a season of blessings. But boy oh boy, can I whine when I think I deserve more popsicle!! How pathetic of me to insult the Lord, whose amazing sacrifice for me far overshadows my small maternal sacrifices, just because I didn't get my own way.

Like...a two year old.

Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don't just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ's servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you're really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free.
Ephesians 6:5-8 (The Message)

Lord, please change our hearts, by the power of your Holy Spirit, that we may do all things without complaining and disputing, so that we might be your ambassadors of light to a whiny world. Amen.

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Blogger Denise said...

I join you in this beautiful prayer.

February 5, 2009 at 12:51 AM  
Blogger Shannon Jacobyansky said...

You hit the nail right on the head! I too get frustrated at times because I seem invisible. I mean did they think that meal got on the table...LOL! But in the end, I must realize that I am not doing what I do for the praise of man. I must do all that I do as unto the Lord and remember He sees everything! Thanks for the great reminder today!

February 5, 2009 at 5:56 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

I too struggle with wanting my kids to have hearts of gratitude then see that I am not always the best example...

Grumbling that is a big one, thanks for the great post.

February 5, 2009 at 6:44 AM  
Blogger Sandy at God Speaks Today said...

Decided to do my devotional time at the computer today...and didn't know I'd find YOU here!!! :)

So glad you distinguished between "sinful grumbling" and "pouring out our hearts to God."

I know many people who are afraid to tell God how they really if He didn't know already.

When I'm feeling all crabby and unappreciative (often!), I try to call it what it is. I just go to God honestly and tell Him, "I feel crabby today God. I feel unthankful and irritable. Please help me to find the good thing in this. Please help me to be thankful in all things."

When I take my thoughts captive in HIS strength, it's so much more effective than trying to wrestle them down on my own.

Thanks for joining me in my devotions today, friend! I loved running into you here!


February 5, 2009 at 6:46 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

HI Missy,

Wow, what a great devotion to start my day. So well done and filled with truth. Boy, I am going to think twice about the popsicle and grumbling today.

Excellent. Thank you.

February 5, 2009 at 8:51 AM  
Blogger Queen to my 3 Boys said...

Wow, that's good.

Funny how He leads us to things that speak right to our hearts. This was that thing today. Thank you for the reminder - I reallly needed it.

February 5, 2009 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger The Bearded Lady said...

Very nice!! I felt the much needed prick of conviction girl!!

February 5, 2009 at 10:07 AM  
Blogger Sheryl said...

What a wonderful devotion. I will be sending your link to the women of our church - very inspiring.

February 5, 2009 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger elaine @ peace for the journey said...

While reading this, I was reminded about the devotional I read from Oswald Chambers last evening. He talks about "the love of Christ that compels us" and how difficult it is for us to make that leap in our own minds and hearts. Are we truly compelled by God's love or by our love of self? In the first chapter of Acts, Christ tells his disciples that they will be his witnesses...witnesses unto him; another words, when it happens to us (whether good, bad, ugly, beautiful) it happens to him. Seeing our lives through the lenses of our Father compels us toward loving rather than complaining. Toward best interest rather than self interest.

As I'm pondering this truth today and your thoughts accordingly, I am reminded that I have a long way to go in the area of my complaining. To be compelled by Christ's love for his world and nothing else is the true essence of what it is to live a discipled life as unto the Lord. It's what I'm after.

Thanks for keeping it real and keeping God at the helm. And thanks for listening to my rambling.


February 5, 2009 at 11:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow. thank you so much for this devotional. it was exactly what i needed right this minute. bless you.

February 5, 2009 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Today's Christian Mom~ said...

I have a 10 and 14 year old and I have been struggling with this so much I KNOW our current church lesson "What's in your attitude?" is just for me! We are to do all things without complaining but it is soooo hard with kids that don't want to help or seem unapreciative. I too have wondered if God is ever frustrated with me like I am with them. Thanks for sharing!

February 5, 2009 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger Today's Christian Mom~ said...

I have a 10 and 14 year old and I have been struggling with this so much I KNOW our current church lesson "What's in your attitude?" is just for me! We are to do all things without complaining but it is soooo hard with kids that don't want to help or seem unapreciative. I too have wondered if God is ever frustrated with me like I am with them. Thanks for sharing!

February 5, 2009 at 3:56 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

This is really good, I am very touched by this, has my mind thinking about my grumbling today. I have a step son that just turned 19 and he came over to visit and stay the night, when I came home from work my house was a wreck, I was irritated and grumbling so yes this is a thought provoking post and I needed to hear this today.

February 6, 2009 at 7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow o wow o wow. Excellent devotion...excellent reminder for me! Oh have I been there. :( I have four precious babies and my pregnanices have been full of griping. It does get better with each one, but still. Everything can't come easy. Not all adversaries of from "the devil". The Lord brings things on us to grow us...sometimes to birth something in us. I so need to be careful I'm not cursing the work of the Lord in me, thinking it's the devil. Perseverence in the hard times [while praising Him] brings good character and patience. Thank you for this!

February 6, 2009 at 7:29 AM  
Blogger Amydeanne said...

ya, I can so relate to this Missy! thanks for being so honest!

February 6, 2009 at 8:22 AM  
Blogger Alexia said...

Wow - that really spoke to me today. I can get very negative and grumbly. Thanks for the reminder!

February 6, 2009 at 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Ann said...

What a good post - I do get the point - a very good point, the grumbling, and how grievous that can be. As a mom of 6, I have found that children are taught appreciation at a young age. Just like we have to discipline ourselves to appreciate God's blessings, we too have to train and encourage and discipline our littles to have a grateful heart toward us and others. What a lot of work! I pray I am not as much work for my heavenly father as these darlings have been for us - in the area of appreciation. The first time our oldest four piled in the car and uttered a joyful "thankyou, Mom and Dad" after an outing I think my husband and I almost passed out! But it has continued and been contagious, Praise the Lord. And may their character continue to grow, and our appreciation to our great God
never wane. Thank you for your insightful post!

February 6, 2009 at 3:54 PM  
Blogger LauraLee Shaw said...

I am such a whiner. Oddly enough, it's never the big trials in life that get me complaining. It's the little bitty, one grind at a time thing that gets me throwing a tantrum. Thank you for reminding me to examine this.

February 7, 2009 at 12:37 AM  

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