Be a Winner, Not a Whiner
"When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. They said to Moses, "Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?" - Exodus 14:10-11
Probably one of the significant truths about complaining is that it's something you don't have to teach. Having an 8-year-old daughter has made me quite aware of the fact that children complain as soon as they are able to express themselves. We're born with a natural ability to complain, so that no matter how good we have it, we want something better or more. Something within us is just naturally bent towards not being satisfied with the natural course of events. In this passage, the Children of Israel began to complain after seeing God's hand miraculously providing for them time and time again.
Now, I wish I could say I have never done this, but I can't. I don't know how many times I've doubted God's desire to take care of me, even after He has provided for me time and time again. Ultimately, complaining and trusting God's leadership are polar opposites.
And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." Exodus 14:13-14
This may sound rather obvious, but God wants His children to trust His leadership, that He is our only source of deliverance. God often accomplishes this by bringing us to a crisis of faith. When God brings us to a crisis, He frequently does so to reveal specific areas in which we don't trust Him. We're then confronted with what we do really trust. God's testing, therefore, asks if you believe or are going to believe rather than how much you believe. There is no such thing as having 65 percent faith in God; you either believe in Him or you don't.
God calls His children to be faithful in the light they've been given. God gives to each person the amount of understanding He has ordained for that person. God gave the Israelites enough light through the death angel, the Egyptians giving them spoils, and the parting of Red Sea for them to know that God would fulfill his promise listed in Exodus 3. He gives a pastor/theologian the amount of grace sufficient for their position. He gives to you and me the grace for the station and wilderness to which He has called us.
This is good news, because it means God never leaves His children without a basis for trusting Him. God is always working mightily in the life of His children. God's work in our lives serves as proof that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who love Him. Therefore, God expects us to believe and walk in the light He has given us when He brings us to a crisis of faith.
"Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?" Exodus 15:11 Terror and dread fall upon them; because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone, till your people, O LORD, pass by, till the people pass by whom you have purchased. Exodus 15:16
God brings us to an impossible situation to prove He is God. He often leads His children into difficult situations to prove He's our only source of deliverance. God brought the drought in the land to bring Jacob to Egypt. He brought oppression on the Israelites to provide justice. He brought them to the Red Sea to prove He was their only deliverance. He brought them to the wilderness to prove to them that He was their only source. God proves to His children that He is God through His deliverance.
God also makes the nations fear Him when He delivers His children. All the plagues unleashed on Egypt proved that God is Lord over all the nations. The nations believed each nation had their own regional god that was only powerful in their area. God defeated the gods of Egypt and Canaan to prove that He is not a second-rate, regional god.
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 ... There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there He tested them, saying, "If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer." Exodus 15:23-26
You'll never be successful when you're complaining against God's leadership. God is our supreme Commander and Chief. It would be chaos if every soldier followed his or her own plan. The soldier isn't capable or determining what needs to be done. God promises to bring disaster on all those who don't trust Him. Successful warriors are the ones who trust their general's leadership. God has the battle plan that His children need to follow. God can see the whole battlefield, because He is all-knowing. He can make His plans work, because He's all powerful. It would be foolish for the soldier to operate on His own limited knowledge and eyesight. It would be disastrous for you to trust in your own understanding and strength when you face a crisis in your life.
Knowing this, what will be your response when God leads you into the wilderness? Will you trust that He has done so for good or will you question His leadership and complain? Only those who trusted in God's leadership ultimately entered into God's rest. Those who didn't trust God's leadership were swallowed up by the ground, destroyed by their enemies, and died in the wilderness. So what will you do? Will you be a winner or a whiner?
For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. Rom. 11:21-23