I am by nature a complainer; I have a tendency to look at things and see the negatives rather than the positives. And yet this is not pleasing to God, at all. My wife has been reading through the Pentateuch and pointed out to me how severely God punished the Israelites for their grumbling. Even a brief look at the punishment for their grumbling includes death by fire (Num. 11:1-3), poisonous serpents (Num. 21:5-9), plague (Num. 11:33) and finally forty years in the wilderness in which a whole generation of men died without seeing the promise fulfilled (Num. 14:29). And all this because they complained. God takes grumbling very, very seriously. It is so serious that even in the New Testament, Paul warns, “Nor should we complain as some of them did, and were killed by the destroyer.” (1Co 10:10 – HCSB).
When I complain, I tell God that I know better than he does, that what He has chosen is not right and that I am master of my fate. I am God, He is not. And that is why complaining is so dangerous and why God punishes it most severely. Some may argue we live in an age of grace, that God is more lenient. However, that is a misunderstanding of God’s holy character. He does not change (Mal. 3:6; Jas. 1:17; Heb. 1:11-12). He is as lenient and as harsh as he was in the Old Testament. Therefore beware complaining, lest I bring upon myself the wrath of God. In this day and age it may look more like a series of unfortunate events or physical symptoms like illness, but the punishment is still there, calling us to submit to God and to rejoice in all things (Php. 4:4). He loves us after all and wants to transform us more into His own image (Heb. 12:5-10). And when we cooperate with Him, praising Him despite the circumstances, we give Him the glory He deserves.