“How’s your diet going?”
Before my mind could muster up some Christianese answer like, “God is good all the time.” or “You know, it is well with my soul.” my flesh spoke for me, “It sucks and I hate my life.”
I hated typing those words as much as you probably hated reading them. Words so ungodly I feel the shame of them even now. They uncover what lingers in my heart: discontentment.
I thought about the state of my hardened heart as I watched everyone at the table eat their cake. I envied the ease of being able to eat what you desire and bear no consequence. If I would have grabbed a slice, I’d be sick later, not to mention all the other symptoms that would erupt, including those which contribute to our fertility issues. Then my mind pondered the unbelieving women who pop pills and smoke or take illicit drugs as their bellies flourish with life inside. And how my love of dairy free ice cream could have contributed to the loss of our three babies. How my womb has been a home for those babies, but I’ve never had the joy of watching it expand.
Further and further I went, down the road of self-pity, my heart grumbling louder with each thought.
Grumbling and Our Self-Sufficiency
I’ve been digging in my heart lately, searching for the answer to why I have more peace over God’s choice to take our babies than I do when it comes to food restrictions. I remember Israel’s complaints to the Lord regarding their new diet change as they walked in the wilderness.
Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” (Numbers 11:4-6 ESV)
I know what it’s like to have a strong craving and I may have cried a few tears over food. But more than that, I’m in a sort of “wilderness” myself. Infertility is akin to wandering in the wilderness. Wouldn’t it be fitting that I too would lose my cool over the lack of variety in my meal plan? It seems like Christians should be able to fight the temptation to grumble over something so small. But, our sinful flesh remains. Maybe it’s our belief that we’re strong enough in our own might to respond rightly when the smaller annoyances come our way. When someone cuts us off on the road, or work gets overwhelming, or a we’re faced with a big diet change, we aren’t prepared for it because we think it to be so minuscule that we don’t need God’s help.
I realized this week I hadn’t once asked God to change my taste buds, satisfy my cravings, or grant contentment. I tried to go it alone for almost two months before realizing how much I need his help.
The truth is, we need his power to respond to all circumstances and annoyances in a Christlike way. We must learn to abide in Jesus at all times. (John 15:4)
We grumble because of our self-sufficiency.
Grumbling and Our Forgetfulness
This wasn’t the first time the Israelites were caught complaining.
And the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3 ESV)
They had begged God to save them from the harsh slavery of the Egyptians and he miraculously answered their prayer. But they forgot. They forgot his many wonders in Egypt, the parting of the red sea, and now they were certain after all that, he would allow them to die from starvation. I can’t say I’d have acted in more faith, knowing how hunger affects my own brain. But you would think after all the miracles they witnessed, they would trust God to bring provision for food.
But then again, I’ve been freed from the slavery of sin and yet here I am grumbling over my “manna.” God crucified his Son as the propitiation for my sin, therefore breaking the chains which held me captive, and I’m worried about all the food I miss out on? A diet seems trivial, but even the worst possible affliction is minuscule compared to the eternity that awaits us because of Jesus.
But like the Israelites, we forget so easily. We allow our hearts to remain tied up in what’s in front of us. Food, children, marriage, money—we lift these things before us instead of fixing our eyes on our Savior.
We grumble because we forget.
Grumbling and Our Hearts
Truly, our grumbling, whether spoken or in our minds, is offensive to God. It reveals a heart which is not treasuring Jesus above all things. It unmasks our idols and our love of comfort and control. We grumble due to our misplaced treasure.
We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (1 Corinthians 10:9-11 ESV)
When we catch ourselves complaining, we must acknowledge that we’re complaining about God who is sovereign over our life. And we must repent, asking him to help us trust him with our circumstances, knowing that he is a good and wise God.
May we make Jesus the treasure of our hearts, more than anything else, even cake—especially cake. He is worthy.
…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV)