shine grumling candle
candle shine in rainy night

These 10 words get me every time: “Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”

I read these words each January as I begin my Bible journey again. They are in Exodus 16:8 and every time I read them, I gasp.

Reality hits hard.

But this week, I also hear those 10 words as an invitation to replace grumbling with trust.

In other words, as an invitation to shine.

I Hate Grumbling

There’s not much I hate more than grumbling. It’s right up there with tracking mud through the house, making excuses, and lying. It’s ugly. So you wouldn’t think I’d need the reminder.

But while I despise complaining in others, I find ways to condone it in myself. I’m sympathetic to my gripes that our woodsy 3 BR ranch doesn’t have an office space or sunny windows where I can write, and my murmuring about how I must work at a job that is not my “passion.” There’s also that fine line between grieving and grumbling that in two decades of infertility, I crossed many times.

But please know that I’m not talking about sorrow (2 Corinthians 6:10), groaning (Romans 8:23), or lament (Psalm 6:3). Each of these can have a good and godly place in our lives. We are called to pour out our hearts to God (Psalm 62:8). The Bible is full of the faithful crying out, “How long?”

But those are not what Exodus 16 is about. It is not a humble cry for help. Rather, it records the gripes of the Israelites a month out of slavery, the murmuring of God’s people who somehow thought they knew how to handle their lives better than their Divine Warrior, Redeemer, and Healer (Exodus 15:3, 13, 26).

In short, they thought the Exodus was a mistake. They were pining for the meat pots of Egypt.

Grumbling Against God

We might think we’re just grumbling about the traffic or the weather, the kids’ teachers or coaches or refs. We can justify our gripes about our spouses, pastors, or doctors, and our frustrated plans.

It doesn’t seem like we’re grumbling against God.

But the Greek Old Testament uses the word goggusmos for grumbling. It means to talk in a low tone (think = gong). A grumble is an audible murmur, an expression of dissatisfaction or discontent. And according to those 10 words in Exodus 16, this goggusmos is grumbling against God.

Against Jehovah Jireh, “the God who provides” (Genesis 22:14). And against God, “who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). Against God “who spared not his own Son,” giving proof that “he will graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32) and promised that “those who seek the Lord lack no good thing” (Psalm 34:10, also Psalm 84:11). Against the God who controls the weather.

But Moses speaks to us in bold:

“Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”

Exodus 16:8

Our grumbles rise. God hears his creatures whine against his rule, his providence and “I will see to it”—his promise to provide all our needs according to his riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

The God Who Provides

God does this even after we grumble. The Israelites grumbled because they didn’t think God would provide—that he’d led them into the wilderness “to kill them with hunger” (Exodus 16:3).

Someone said anxiety is living out the present before we get there. Anxiety can manifest as grumbling. To his anxious, complaining people God sent meat to eat that very night and manna in the morning, new every morning. Like God’s mercies (Lamentations 3:22-23).

So rather than grumble, let’s trust God to provide. When we do, we will live what Greg Morse calls “the luminary life of trusting saints; a life that shines in a dark and thankless world (Romans 1:21).”

Then, through this blameless, grumble-less, holding-fast life, we will shine.

“Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, holding fast to the word of life…”

Philippians 2:14-16 (HCSB)

✨Try It: Read Exodus 15:1-16:12. Notice how fast the Israelites went from praising to grumbling. Where can you flip the script and replace gratitude and trust for grumbling? What would it look like for you to go whine-free and shine?

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