God's Character

God’s complaint hotline: Now serving customer number zero

Considering how often we ask God for things, and how we often get upset when our lives are not how we want them, have we ever stopped and considered how God feels when we complain, and/or demonstrate a lack of trust in his will for our lives?

Pro-Tip #11: God’s Track Record For Respecting Our Complaints Is Non-Existent

There is no doubt God does not enjoy when we complain

In fact, God dislikes complaining so much, he often hands out punishment when people question him in anger or voice unhappiness in a way that shows they are taking the blessings they have already received for granted

For example, look at this instance where the Israelites complained because they wanted to eat meat, instead of the “manna” God gave them every day while he was leading them through the desert

Numbers 11:1-3
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

(Note how this verse shows God’s reaction to complaining, as it says “when he heard them his anger was aroused”, he did not receive their complaints with good natured patience, he was mad! Also, can you imagine being at a Bible study where a few people start complaining about how difficult their lives are, and it upsets God so much he starts burning the house down? Yikes!)

Numbers 11:4-10
The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a handmill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into cakes. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down

Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The Lord became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled

(Um, yeah, I can imagine Moses was troubled! God had just finished setting a bunch of things on fire because a handful of Israelites were complaining about their lives, now, to make things worse, instead of just a few people complaining, “the people of every family” were standing outside their houses “wailing” about how they did not like God’s food! It does not exactly take a genius to figure out nothing good was about to happen, and what do you know…)

Numbers 11:31-34
Now a wind went out from the Lord and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction. All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers. Then they spread them out all around the camp. But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the Lord burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. Therefore the place was named Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who had craved other food

Well okay then!

Okay, I am sure no one is surprised how that went down, but it is worth noting God gave the Israelites exactly what they wanted to the point of overload (“ten homers” is roughly ten giant baskets full of quail each), by performing a miracle no less, but, and this is a big but, he then struck those who ate the meat with a plague that killed them–not exactly what the Israelites expected as part of what they thought was an answer to prayer!

Beyond the obvious things we see in this situation, it is important to understand what God was really upset over, as the Israelites complained how their lives were not how they wanted, and went so far as to say their lives back in Egypt as slaves were better because they had the food they wanted–they were openly saying their lives as slaves were better than after God had freed them, and over something so ridiculous as their preference in food!

I mean honestly!

In the same way, God gets upset when we reject him in favor of seeking worldly happiness, even more so when we look at our old lives, and say we were happier before we knew God

Numbers 11:4-6
The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”

What makes all of this ironic, is how Moses openly tells Israel later that God was testing them, and, in fact, brought Israel to a place of hardship, just so it would expose whether they honored God enough to follow him, even when things were not exactly as they wanted

Anybody can follow God when their lives are easy and nothing is wrong, that takes no strength or trust in God at all

Proverbs 24:10
If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!

Deuteronomy 8:2-5
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you

Even though this example with the Israelites seems so outrageous, we do not realize how often things like this happen in our lives without us even knowing it

Complaining About Our Lives Is Telling God We Know Better Than He Does, And That We Do Not Trust Him

Oh yes, this is true

Think about how often we pray for things like spouses, better jobs, improved financial situations, vacations, new ponies, etc…, without ever stopping to ask God “What do you want in my life?”


No, we mostly take a “God, this is how I want my life, please give me what I want” approach, without giving much care, or consideration, for what God’s will is for our lives, which is odd as our desires somehow, however ridiculously, seem to supersede God’s authority when we feel like something is important to us

What we do not realize in these moments, is that we are openly saying “God, I want something you are not giving me, and I want it in my timing, not yours–your plan in my life does not make me happy!”

Um, good thing we are not living in the desert with the Israelites, as we would probably have been struck with a plague or burned up

This sounds silly, but it is exactly the same type of attitude the Israelites showed that made God so upset, yet we do this to him all the time!

Ironically though, how often do we consider the scenarios noted above like this: maybe God does not want us to get married yet because we are not emotionally or spiritually mature enough to handle it, maybe we do not have a better job because moving up would cause our ego to get out of control, maybe our financial situation would change if learned to act responsibly with what we have before God blesses us with more, etc…

It is often hard to admit we might be the reason God is not giving us something, as it is incredibly easy to just blame God for not blessing us how we see fit


All these crickets lead us to the next point

What Gives Us The Right To Complain In The First Place

Has anyone ever found a verse in the Bible where God promises to make our lives how we want them, to always keep us comfortable, and to fulfill our desires when we pray for them, all just because we said we believe in him?

No, of course not!

So what gives us the right to complain when our lives are not how we expect?

Sure, we look at the Israelites and wonder how they could be so selfish after being rescued from slavery, but:

Was Jesus humbling himself, and dying on the cross for our sin not enough for us?

Was entering into a personal relationship with the creator of the universe not enough for us?

I mean honestly, if these things are not enough to cause any complaining to cease, we need to re-think our view of God’s sacrifice for us

Further to this, God says he himself is our promised reward, he does not say we will be showered with earthly blessings as the result of knowing him!

Genesis 15:1
I am your shield, your very great reward

Also, and this may sound harsh, but the people who complain the most, are often the most immature as they do not consider just how awesome God is in the first place, and how baffling it is that he pays attention to us in the first place

Psalm 8:4
What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

This is a difficult concept for many to grasp, as they are exposed to many feel-good, seeker friendly teachings that focus purely on things like “God wants to bless you!”, “There is no end to the blessings you will receive when you walk with God!”, and “Ask for anything and you will receive it!”

Uh huh, yeah

Again, please direct me to any verse that clearly says God will give us anything we ask for unconditionally

Even though these types of teachings sound good at first, they typically create disappointment as they only teach people to seek God because of what they want from him, not for who he is or because of their gratitude for his sacrifice

Since we are surrounded by teachings that focus purely on God’s more marketable side, we have to read stories like the one noted about in Numbers 11, as it impossible to understand God’s mercy without understanding his personality for what it is

For example, without truly knowing God’s character, how can we value the mercy we received, with the respect it deserves, if we do not understand it comes from the one who destroyed even his chosen people for complaining about his work in their lives, yet he is the same one who bears with us patiently

It is beyond humbling to think God looks at us in such a way, but it does not give us free license to treat him like a blessing dispenser

If we really stop to consider how much it meant for God to lay down his life for us, we would not complain because our earthly happiness does not meet our expectations, in fact, it would not matter to us at all!

Take Paul for example, the guy was beaten, mocked, completely poor, and was persecuted by people inside, and outside, the church, but he still said he was happy no matter what because of his relationship with God, think about that the next time a complaint starts to well up inside of us–we really have nothing to complain about, especially if we compare our lives to those who have it much worse

Philippians 4:10-13
I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength

And yes, doing “everything through him who gives [us] strength” includes being able to not complain or take God’s work in our lives for granted!

There Is A Difference Between Asking For Help/Insight/Guidance And Complaining

Sure, there are going to be times in our lives when things are really challenging, but that does not mean we can get upset with God, it just means we need to stay focused on him, and ask him for help, as well as the wisdom, peace, and strength to navigate whatever is happening in a way that pleases him–there is nothing wrong with praying to God like that, it is exactly what he wants us to do when faced with times of trouble, just do not complain or get angry with him in the process!

Nahum 1:7
The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him

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  • It’s really hard to read this. Every step of the way I feel a shamed and downright embarrassed because I’ve complained (not prayed, just complained) all the time! However, I’m grateful for the realization and feel it’s pointing me back in the right direction, I just have to start walking. Hopefully I won’t complain this time.

    Thanks for the amazing post!

    • Hi Jay,

      Do not feel ashamed, but it is good to objectively review what our attitudes are when we pray, as it is incredibly easy to just tell God what we do not like about our lives, and forget all the amazing things he has done for us, oops!

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