Snow in the middle of April, covering the green grass and flowers that had begun to pop up. It felt like a very bad joke. A few days prior I was ready to pack away the winter coats. Yet there I stood in front of the window with my son on my hip, shaking my head as the snow tumbled from the sky and settled on the lawn. I shifted my son’s weight as I grumbled to myself, I hate snow—when will I be able to enjoy the sun again?
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you love the snow, but the beating down of the summer sun makes you cranky. Or maybe you’re sick of trudging through muck and puddles from the seemingly endless rain. I’ve been there too. I didn’t think much of it—its just what everyone does. Complain about the weather, maybe try to find something good in it, if you can. I had little consideration for my complaints because I was so used to hearing them—from both my own mouth the mouths of others.
Until I saw myself wandering the wilderness with the grumbling Israelites.
The Israelites had seen God provide time and time again. When they were cornered at the Red Sea by the Egyptians, he split the waters so they could cross through, then brought the waters down on the Egyptians when they pursued them. He brought water out of rocks, made bitter water drinkable, rained manna to eat down from sky, and sustained them throughout their wilderness wanderings to the Promised Land. After all of these examples of God’s faithfulness and grace towards them, we read these words:
“The riffraff among them had a strong craving for other food. The Israelites wept again and said, ‘Who will feed us meat? We remember the free fish we ate in Egypt, along with the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. But now our appetite is gone; there’s nothing to look at but this manna!’” (Numbers 11:4-6 CSB)
Whenever I read about how the Israelites complained against God, I shake my head. After all they had seen, after all God had done for them… This is their refrain? Complaint? God rained down manna! That wasn’t good enough?
As I complained about the snow that day, I saw myself amongst those Israelites. I saw myself gathering the heaven-sent manna, grumbling I didn’t have what I wanted.
Whenever we complain, whatever our complaint is about, it is against God. God is sovereign, and everything we have is first from God. He chose it and saw it not only fit but good for us to have. The same God who created me to love the sunlight and heat chose to cover my yard in snow in April for my good and his glory. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change,” (James 1:17 ESV) and everything is a gift from God.
And that which he withholds, like the sunlight and the warm weather, is also a gift. God withholds no good thing, and so if something is withheld it is because he loves us. As the Psalmist declares,
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!”
Psalm 84:11-12 ESV
Because God withholds no good thing from us, we are blessed. We are blessed because he, like a shield, protects us from that which would do us harm and isn’t good for us.
Who am I to complain against such a good God, who only seeks to do what is best for me and for his glory? It is only by his grace that he does it. I am not deserving of his goodness. I tried to earn my righteousness on my own, I told him I didn’t need his grace or salvation because I could get to heaven just fine on my own. Yet he stopped me in my self-righteous tracks and opened my eyes to see my own sinfulness. He shattered me like a clay pot dropped on cement floor to show me only he could put me back together. He set his love on me before he created the world, predestining me to be his daughter, and sent Christ to atone for my sins on the cross. Time and time again he has provided me with my earthly needs and blessed me over and over, though I am still undeserving of it. Who am I to complain against this Righteous King? Complain that he didn’t send sunshine but sent snow?
I am no better than those Israelites. Perhaps I am even worse.
I am thankful that unlike those Israelites, God did not struck me down with a very great plague (Numbers 11:33). Thankfully, I am his daughter and Christ paid the penalty for my sins, even my complaints about the weather he sends. But this does not mean I should sin all the more so such grace will abound, but because of my gratefulness to God for his grace, I will strive to, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to put off the sin of complaining and put on gratefulness to God who gives only good and perfect gifts and withholds the rest.