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Complain or Pray

Complain or Pray

When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” Exodus 15:23-24

My wife and I are wannabe do-it-yourselfers, currently working on adding living space into an old garage. We’re probably in over our heads, but we’ve enjoyed the challenge – for the most part. Recently though, I had one of those days when I just couldn’t accomplish anything. I had a few hours to work and hoped to drywall the bathroom in that time. To start hanging the drywall however, I first had to do modify the framing that I’d previously done incorrectly. I didn’t have any more 2x4s though, so I had to run to town. When I got back, I realized there was insulation and electrical wire where I needed to put those 2x4s. So, I had to work around that.

By the time I got all the prep work done, I was out of time, tired, hungry, and crabby. Why can’t anything go right? I complained in my head. I whined out loud. I got short with my wife. Finally, I recognized that my big-boy tantrum was simply a toxic self-indulgence in my anger and frustration, and I turned to God in prayer. God, teach me patience. Help me choose peace. Let my words be kind. And with that, my attitude changed. The drywall still wasn’t hung, but I was no longer acting like a spoiled man-child.

Complain or pray. This is the lesson of today’s passage for me. In the story, after God delivered his people from the Egyptian army, he led them into the wilderness, where they encountered undrinkable water. What was the Israelites response? The people grumbled against Moses. Tired, hungry, and thirsty, they whined and they complained. What did Moses do? He prayed, turning to God, who provided a solution.

Complain or pray. When I complain, I focus on myself, indulging in and growing my toxic frustration, impatience, and anger. In this mindset, I think, say, and do things that are unhealthy for me and my relationships. Complaining is corrosive to my emotional and spiritual health. If, however, when vexed, I instead choose to practice the discipline of prayer, I turn my mind towards God instead of self. In doing so, I point my mind and my life in a different direction, choosing that which is emotionally and spiritually healthy. In this mindset, I may not get any more drywall hung, but I’m far happier – and so is my wife.

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