Grumbling in the Camp?

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
1 Peter 2:9-10, The Message*

I’ve been reading the start of the Old Testament, how God called Abram and built his descendants into the nation of Israel: a holy people, chosen by God, with one tribe called to priestly work and all twelve to be living illustrations of the difference God makes.

Right now I’m at the part of the story where Moses is leading the Israelites in the desert. God is visibly with them, the cloud by day and the fire by night. He speaks to them through Moses.

They know He’s with them, and they’re a bit scared of Him. But what do they do, over and over?

They complain. They grumble.

Every time I read it, I shake my head in wonder. God is with them—don’t they get it? He’s brought them out of slavery and protected them from Pharoah’s army. He’s parted the Red Sea and provides their daily manna. Can’t they trust Him to look after them?

As I investigate my own heart to see what’s gumming up the works, as I listen to myself talk to my friends, is that a… grumbling spirit? Oh, dear.

Henry Blackaby says in the Experiencing God workbook, “Settle in your own mind that God has forever demonstrated His absolute love for you on the cross. That love will never change.” (Unit 6, Day 2)

Although I have head knowledge that God loves me, I haven’t been acting on it in belief. I’ve been letting circumstances (and people) irritate and disturb.

But God is good. And He loves me.

I’ve confessed and rejected the grumbling. As I repeat the truth about God’s goodness and His love, I feel myself relax, like all the tension is melting away from my body.

Father, thank You. Please keep reminding me of the truth and quieting my spirit to receive it. You are good. You love me. Help me rest in this knowledge and grow in gratitude and trust. Let it be an antidote to grumbling, striving and discontent. Help me demonstrate by my life that You are trustworthy and good.

A fitting prayer is the song, “Give Thanks,” sung here by Don Moen and friends.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

10 thoughts on “Grumbling in the Camp?

  1. landsway

    I have also wondered how they children of Israel could be so dense and could not see how lucky they were; but like you I have looked at my own life and found the same things. I am doing a series now on believing God. If we truly do believe we act differently. We are usually so critical of others, but if we are where we need to be we will concentrate more on getting ourselves right.

    1. janetsketchley

      I think “truly” is a key word in what you say about believing God. So many times we think we believe, but it doesn’t come out in our actions or even in our reactions. He’s showing me this regularly in my own life.

      Thanks for letting me know about your blog posts. I’m trying to keep up but had missed these, and it’s definitely a topic of interest. Everyone, the link to part one in this series of Land’s Lessons is and you can find the rest from there.

  2. Margaret


    What a good reminder….. One might be tempted to sympathize with the Israelites complaining when they didn’t have water in the desert….. Water is an absolute necessity, especially in a desert….. And yet, even that complaining was a sign of their lack of trust in the Almighty LORD, who had proven His power to provide for their needs…..

    God has also proven His providing power in our lives, but it is so easy to “forget” about all His provisions….. We need to, “Rejoice in the Lord always.”…. And, we need to give thanks, while praying for forgiveness for all our failings….. This world is quite the testing grounds for faith.


    1. janetsketchley

      Testing grounds indeed…

      And yes, the Israelites needed water and it must have been irritating. “Just once, couldn’t we make camp by a nice oasis?”

      But God was with them, tangibly present. A child would have the simple faith to go to Him, hold out a cup, and just ask in quiet trust. Adults complicated it a bit!

      I want to be like that child, because He’s right here with each of us today, too.

      You’ve hit it with the need to rejoice and be thankful, Margaret. If we’re rehearsing what He’s done, we’ll be able to trust Him to do it again.

  3. gladwellmusau

    Hi Janet. Amen. I pray that prayer with you as I realize that each day comes loaded with its own troubles Hence discontentment and grumbling only helps to magnify the small problems into mountains.

    Blessing to you as you stay keep in HIM!


    1. janetsketchley

      Gladwell, congratulations on your blogging anniversary! May the Lord give you many more insights to share.

      Your comment gives us another reason to choose thankfulness — why make our troubles bigger than they started?

  4. Lyn

    Thanks Janet,
    This is a great reminder to look at our own grumbles and see them with God’s eyes. We are doing a Bible Study, by Beth Moore, on the book of Daniel. In it, we are being shown how much our culture is like ancient Babylon. Me and what I want so easily comes first in our minds. Instead of looking for ways to serve others and bring glory to God, we can, so easily, grumble about what we think we need instead of looking at what God has given us.

    1. janetsketchley

      “Me, me, me” seems to be the dominant thought, at least in North America. We really need to learn to “turn our eyes upon Jesus” — for our own sakes as well as for His glory. Thanks for visiting, Lyn!


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