On Sunday I wrote about being a pleasing aroma to God. As I noted from my current reading of the Old Testament, God often mentioned portions of the sacrifices being a pleasing smell to Him. And Romans tells us we are to be a living sacrifice holy and acceptable unto God. Well, I've detected in myself recently an attitude that isn't so pleasing to God. Actually I'd saved an old magazine from back in the spring of 2002. This article must have spoken to me in such a way that I saved it. Fitting that I came across it again just yesterday.
I struggle at times with complaining. Granted, I think I am mostly a grateful person and I truly try to be cognizant of the fact that I am abundantly blessed. However, since returning from Damascus I know I have done my share of complaining to the Lord. Last year was so exciting as we made plans (got passports) all the way back in May that would be helpful just in case we decided to do the crazy thing in my mind (visit Syria). I didn't know if we would truly do it, but why not get the passports just in case. (You have to have them 3 months prior to applying for a visa so it's not something you can just do the month before you want to travel.)
I was so excited about the possibility especially as I prayed and prayed and sought confirmation from God about whether or not HE wanted us to go there. I would read books and hear songs and just felt God was really speaking to me about this being what He wanted. And I truly believe it was and that He blessed our trip.
But now I am home.
And that's been the source of my discontent! What am I supposed to do now? I guess it's kind of like that after-Christmas letdown that I wrote about a week after our trip. Yes, I still feel some of that even though it's been 3 months since our return! That's been the source of my complaints to the Lord.
And then I come across this article -- buried in a drawer for 7 years now! Seven years and I find it just the other day. Here are a few things from it that spoke to me. I wanted to write them here as a reminder of what I learned. In the Old Testament, they often made altars of stones in order to remember great victories or provisions that the Lord made for them. Let's consider this post my altar of what God has taught me about complaining and how it is really a stinky odor to Him. Remember the Israelites complained often and even Moses was fed up with them and told the Lord this task was too difficult for him. Here are things the author of this article had to say.
"Complaining is giving expression to one's self-centered discontentment." Although it can be words it also can be expressions such as rolling eyes, gnashing teeth, huffing and puffing, stomping off and other body language that "conveys defiance, disrespect or disapproval."
"Most people think they will stop complaining when they finally get happy. Paul indicates that people will get happy when they finally stop complaining." [Paul tells us in Phil. 2 to do all things without complaining.]
"From God's perspective, to complain is to doubt His promises and provisions. To complain is to slander His sovereignty and assault His lordship. To complain is to accuse God of being a bad Father!"
"A complainer does not cease to be a complainer when he stops complaining; he ceases to be a complainer when he starts giving thanks as a way of life."
Timothy Valentino -- Today's Christian Preacher; Spring 2002
So instead of complaining to the Lord about what I'm supposed to do and lamenting the fact that I greatly miss Damascus, I will choose to start thanking Him. Because, really, it's not often that people get to make trips such as we made. That in itself is a great blessing and I am truly grateful for it. I will anticipate what God has in store for me next and be thankful that He is a good Father and I can trust Him with my future.
I need to make thankfulness a way of life!