If the followers of Jesus complain about their circumstances and do not trust God, then why would I want to follow Jesus? When we complain about our lives, we demonstrate a lack of trust and respect for the one who saved us and who is presently helping us…
Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord , and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the Lord and the fire died down. So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the Lord had burned among them.
Why would God become angry when his people complain about their hardships? It was so angering to God that he sent a clear message of warning and discipline through the fire which consumed some of the outskirts of camp. That’s some holy anger. So what gives? Why is complaining so bad?
We might do well go turn back a page to the end of chapter 10, in which the setting out of Israel was described. The cloud of God lifted and went before them to their new camp. Moses invited the presence of God to rise up and scatter God’s enemies before him as he led his people. And then when the new camp was found, Moses would invite God to return to rest over his people.
In other words, Israel was in the palm of God’s hand. God was present and God was leading. And that’s why complaining is so offensive to God.
When we complain about our lives and to our God, we demonstrate a lack of trust and a lack of respect for the one who saved us and who is presently helping us.
In addition to God’s offense, I would wonder, what does our complaining do to the ideas and perceptions our neighbours have about our God? If the followers of Jesus complain about their circumstances and do not trust the Lord, then why would I want to follow their God?
The contrasting behaviour is to believe that God is in control and to act that way in reverence to the God who saved us. Not only would that put us in the right posture before God, who holds us in the palm of his hand, it also demonstrates to our neighbours that a relationship with God produces peace and hope and a better future in this life and the next.
How do we get there? Well, we have to give up control, give up what we perceive to be our rights to our own ways, and surrender the timing of our blessings to God.