A favorite scripture passage of mine is Exodus 15. It is the song of Moses and the Israelites after they crossed the Red Sea on dry land. Verse after verse paints a vivid picture of God’s unfailing character. I especially love verse 11 that says, “Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” The Israelites experienced God’s power first-hand as He parted the waters, allowed them to walk through on the floor of the sea, and drowned their Egyptian enemies.
It’s interesting, though, no sooner than the praising ends; the complaining begins. Once again, the Israelites were on the move and there was no water to be found! What do they do? Grumble to Moses! He speaks to the Lord on their behalf and God again provides for them. It seems as though the praise-then-complain became a vicious cycle for the people of Israel.
When I read the Old Testament, I often want to be upset with the Israelites. Why do they not just trust God? Surely they know He will provide! Then I see myself; I do the same thing! When things are going well and when I see God at work, I am quick to praise Him, but the minute a trial comes I start to complain! When will I learn my lesson?
I’ve learned something, though, that helps turn my complaining into praise—focusing on God’s character rather than my problem. I remind myself of scripture passages telling of who God is and what he has done (like Exodus 15), instead of thinking about my present circumstances. Trust me, this is not always the easiest thing to do, but certainly turns seemingly bleak situations into opportunities to glorify God.
This was truly an “a-ha” moment for me a couple of years ago. Our little family was living in Louisville, Kentucky at the time and really just struggling along. My husband was finishing school while he worked a sales job with long hours and minimal pay, our second daughter had just arrived, and it seemed like every time we turned around something was falling apart! I mean, you name it and it was breaking—both vehicles, the HVAC unit at our house, and my appendix ruptured all within weeks of each other. It was just a crazy season of our life. I remember complaining to others, crying out to the Lord, and just wondering on so many occasions why these things were happening to us. We obeyed God and did what he told us to do by surrendering to His call to ministry, so why were we enduring these things?
During that time I came across Colossians 1: 17 that says, “He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” Oh, how I clung to that verse! I prayed it over and over and just believed that I served the creator of the universe, the One who knew time before it ever began, and that if he could create the world and sustain it, then he could provide for our needs—and provide he did! I can’t even begin to list all the ways the Lord showed His faithfulness to us during that time. We were able to come through that season with stories of God’s continual provision and graciousness, and I am so thankful.
Are you like the Israelites, too? Do you sing and dance when God moves mountains, but turn around and grumble at the first sign of hardship? Seek God’s character and ask Him to reveal Himself to you, rather than centering on your difficulties. Spend time reading God’s word, specifically looking for His attributes. As you read, journal every time you see God’s nature revealed. Let God use his character to shape you into the person he created you to be—one that glorifies Him in all things!