Grumble and Complain
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles . . . Ephesians 3:1
If you read this blog on Facebook or directly from the website, then you see the photos (sorry – no pictures in the email version) that I post every day. If you’ve been reading lately, you may have notice that my wife and I recently traveled to a tropical destination for a few days. We were there to visit family, but we were hoping for some sun and sand as well. Instead, we got rain – and lots of it. There was little sun and even less beach time.
It would have been easy for everyone to complain but it wouldn’t have done any good. Our whining would not have changed the weather. We realized that it would be ridiculous to grumble about being there. It was snowing and freezing back home after all. Yes, most of our time was spent indoors, but we played games and had a grand time with family, which is why we went in the first place.
I’m not always so cheerful. When the world doesn’t go my way, I’m prone to complaining. In my grumbling, I become selfish, focusing inward on me and my expectations. My toxic attitude then affects those around me – and not in a good way. My complaining encourages others to complain, infecting everyone’s attitude. My whining is self-indulgent pity that doesn’t help and only makes everything worse.
In today’s passage, Paul modeled the opposite kind of behavior. In it, he reported to the Ephesians that he’d been arrested for spreading the message of Christ, but he didn’t complain about it. Instead, he said that his imprisonment had actually served to further the gospel. I’m sure getting arrested wasn’t Paul’s plan, but instead of grumbling about it, he looked for how this hardship could be used to further God’s plan. Paul didn’t focus on his will and his frustrations. Rather, he looked to God, having faith that he was in control.
We all know those who complain about everything. When we’re around them, we often allow their negative attitude to affect ours. We know how toxic it can be, but still, a selfish, complaining attitude is infectious, making everything even more miserable. The opposite is true as well though. When we choose to seek God’s will, instead of our own, we abandon our frustration and look to his plan, even in life’s trials. In doing so, we can experience peace and joy, despite our frustrating circumstances.