I woke up this morning hearing the sobs of our #6 grandboy in my dream. Micah is very much related to Max in “Where the Wild Things Are.” At age two, when asked his age he would respond, “Chicken cat!” as he stomped his feet and performed a sort of Indian dance. Now five, his mother describes him as “loving and sacrificial . . . quirky . . . eager to learn new things. He quivers when he gets excited.” He is funny and at times oblivious to what is going on around him in his passionate creativity. But in the face of injustice, Micah sobs crocodile tears as the pain and confusion deep in his heart pour out. Micah is a model of living life to the fullest. He embraces all that is good and laments the pain and sorrow that are also part of living in this place. There are times when his motives are not entirely pure, when his howl is aimed at getting a sibling punished or at the denial of a demand he made. Drama King? At times . . . yes. But waking up to the ring of Micah’s sobs in my head reminded me that, when our world is rocked by things large and small, to lament sorrow to our holy and passionate God is always appropriate. However, our challenge is to avoid the path of the grumbler which, I am learning, has everything to do with the motivation of our hearts.
In a previous post, I wrote about finishing well before God by learning to trust more in His Sovereign Goodness. Writing that post inspired me to make a commitment that has been a good challenge. Philippians 2:14-16a paved the way to making that commitment,
“Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the Word of Life . . . .”
I vowed to avoid grumbling and making excuses for myself. By nature, I am a mostly upbeat individual. But, when I run into what I perceive to be unfairness or when fear grips my heart, I inwardly (and yes, sometimes outwardly) grumble and complain. Having made such a commitment, I imagined that I would periodically write about the challenges and lessons learned as I sought to keep my promise before God. What I did not expect was a struggle within that convicted my heart. Yes . . . grumbling can lead us on a disastrous course before God so avoiding it is wise. But life on this earth can be painful and grim, what ARE we to do when bad things happen? That is a question faced in the Counseling Room all the time. In my role as a Counselor, I know that when someone calls to make an appointment they are looking for help with problems that have either been:
- Thrust upon them by circumstances beyond their control
- Inflicted on them by others or
- They are suffering the consequences of poor choices they brought upon themselves.
It is true that many come initially to complain and grumble about the unfairness of God and life. Humanly, that is entirely understandable. But no matter what the source of their pain may be, I see my role as Counselor is to encourage them to avoid the path of the grumbler as they cry out to God in faith. The fourth chapter of James lends valuable insight into why checking the motivation of our hearts is crucial:
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (verses 1-3)
Checking the motives of our hearts and understanding that when our world is rocked, God cares and is worthy of our trust, is the key to avoiding the path of the grumbler. Romans 8:31 gives us our incentive: ”If God is for us, who can be against us?” To assume the best of our Creator will always keep us on the path of wisdom and result in a deepened faith. The reason we go to Jeremiah 17:5-10 in the Counseling Room first session, is because the passage underscores the blessing of trusting in God above all else. Verses 7 and 8 provide a meaningful reminder:
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Like Micah, our motives are not always pure. But it is right to cry out to God at the pain and injustice of this world. Just make sure that you assume the best of God no matter what you may be facing. Truly, He will prove Himself faithful . . . every . . . single . . . time.
All to His Glory!