Contentment, Perspective, Trusting God

Complain: When Provision Looks Different Than We Expected

River rocks K-trail

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

The other day, I was reading in Numbers 11 . You may know the story . . . the one about how the Israelites were tired of manna. They wanted meat, doggone it. And why couldn’t they just be in Egypt, where the food was free, and there was variety?

Never mind the fact that they were slaves, treated cruelly by the Egyptians. But they had good food!

chicken-avocado-and-more-salad

 

Humanity hasn’t changed much in a few thousand years. We still complain about God’s provision.

Manna wasn’t enough for the Israelites’ tastebuds. Manna was . . . boring. They were discontent with the food of angels, that God provided them daily.

scrawny-flower-morning-sun

 

I’ve been in that same place, and if you were honest, you’d be raising your hand with me. God’s provided for my needs, but not necessarily in the ways I wanted. I’ve wanted more, or different. I’ve chosen discontent over gratitude.

hole-filled-leaf

 

When we complain, even just in our thoughts or our hearts, we’re telling God we want our way over His. That we know what’s best for us. We’re trusting ourselves, rather than our Father.

How many times have I walked in my own trust and ended up dissatisfied and hurt by my choices? Um, okay, I’m not going to answer this because the number is far higher than I’d like to own.

trust-that-gods-provision-copy

 

The truth is, until we come trust that God’s provision is what we need most, we’re going to chafe against it. We’re going to wish for more, or different. We’re going to be frustrated.

When God’s provision looks different from what we expect or hope for, we need to walk in the belief that what He provides is not only enough, it’s what is best for us.

tree-reflected-in-water

 

This mindset can be hard to adopt because it requires us to relinquish the control we think we have over our lives. It demands the surrender of our ways to God’s best plan for us.

It’s only when we come to the place of remembering: 1) that God loves us more than we can comprehend, and 2) He only provides what’s best for us that we can relax into a place of trusting Him.

Help across the rocks

 

Sometimes His provision is hard to accept because it forces us into a place of pain. Through the pain, growth can come, in ways we never anticipated.

Sometimes His provision looks like not-enough, but we discover, later, that it was perfectly enough.

four-bushes-in-morning-sun

 

When we trust God to provide what we need, we won’t complain or grumble. And we won’t be forced to eat meat until we’re beyond sick of it, like the Israelites.

What about you? When have you seen God provide in surprising ways? How do you overcome the urge to complain when things aren’t going the way you expected?

Click to Tweet: When we complain we tell God we want our way over His.

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup

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27 thoughts on “Complain: When Provision Looks Different Than We Expected”

  1. Splendid essay, Jeanne, and what lovely pictures!

    I’m very fortunate in that even though I can no longer work, I have a wife who is both competent and diligent to provide for both of us. I have enough to eat, and a dry place to sleep. That is more than the rest of the world has, and I am content in this high degree of blessing.

    Where I might not be as please with my provision is my physical profile; at present I am dealing with severe abdominal pain (and associated symptoms which I will forbear to describe), a shattered tibia which is not healing well, two abscessed teeth, and a heart which fins some amusement in slowing down and then hesitating at inconvenient times. Barb thinks my heart is simply tired of beating.

    It’s not a physically pleasant situation, and leaves me too fatigued to do much except watch an occasional DVD, read, and think.

    And I think I have been given a rare opportunity to develop empathy and compassion for those who are less fortunate, whose agonies are not merely the luck of the draw, but are the result of deliberate human evil. I can’t afford a doctor, but at least no one is kicking my broken leg-bone for a laugh.

    And I marvel at my good fortune, that I might have the privilege of this perspective, and enjoy it in relative safety, if not total comfort.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/02/your-dying-spouse-274-tiles-and-mirrors.html

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    1. Andrew, you have a perspective I need more of. Being able to see our situation—and others’ situations—with an others’-centered perspective is a good way to work through our own hard things. And the fact that you’re able to do this when your circumstances are harder than most is a beautiful testimony of God’s presence in you. Thank you for your witness here, my friend.

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  2. Excellent post, Jeanne. This is so true, and convicting: “When we complain, even just in our thoughts or our hearts, we’re telling God we want our way over His.” Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

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    1. Karen, I don’t know about you, but I have been pulled up short more than once when I’ve taken a minute to look at my circumstances with an outside perspective. Really, I have it pretty darn good in life. I have my struggles, but when I see what friends and loved ones are dealing with, it kind of puts my situations into a better perspective. And it fosters a more grateful heart. Thank you for stopping by here today!

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  3. Your words hit home. How many times is my default complaining? Too many to count. And yet God promises to provide and always does. We trip ourselves up when what He provides does not look like what we expected. Gratitude goes a long way in changing our perspective and recognizing all God has done for us.

    Beautiful reminder, Jeanne!

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    1. Complaining has been my default before too, Mary. It’s funny, though, after my youngest and I both had surgery in the same week, his complaints about the packing in his ear reminded me that: 1) I have an opportunity to set an example in how I handle my pain, and 2) I don’t really have it all that bad. 🙂

      I’m so thankful God provides what we need, always, and when we need it. I’m seeing that I need to let go of my expectations on what that provision will look like and trust that He knows what I need the most. Thanks for sharing your insights, my wise friend!

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  4. I’m studying I Cor. 10 right now and dipping into Exodus and Numbers to trace Paul’s exasperation with the church at Corinth, almost as if he’s saying, “Hey guys! You’re doing the same thing as the Israelites! God wants you, but you don’t want him! Stop complaining!”
    And then I hear the message aimed at my own heart.
    Thanks for adding your words as well!

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    1. Yeah, Michele. I’ve heard those words before. In fact, once, when my boys were small, I was complaining to God, and He stopped me with a thought: “Jeanne, it’s NOT all about you.” I let that song line be my reminder if I begin to get whiny. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing those Bible passages, Michele!

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  5. Thank you for this reminder today. “until we come trust that God’s provision is what we need most, we’re going to chafe against it.” How true…and challenging!

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    1. Charlie, it is challenging to live out this belief. I don’t know about you, but I have had times when I was disappointed that God didn’t provide the way I expected Him too. Coming to really live out the truth that He knows what’s best for me releases some of those expectations. 🙂

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  6. Such a good reminder, Jeanne. I know in my heart I complain to God about my health limitations, but He is so endlessly patient with me. I am grateful that even though He doesn’t heal me, He does give me daily sufficient grace. 🙂 I was especially encouraged with this truth – “what He provides is not only enough, it’s what is best for us.” Amen! Love and hugs to you!

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    1. Trudy, it’s easy to complain about the things that limit us, isn’t it? I, too, am so thankful for God’s patience with me as I grow into a mindset that emulates His. And I love that you can see the grace God gives you on a daily basis. Thank you for adding to the conversation!

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  7. This really speaks to me as we’ve been in a difficult period with my husband’s difficult job..but your words speak right through any complaining to the heart of gratefulness for what God has given us, and trusting we just keep following Him…warmest thanks for your words today!

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    1. Ahhh, Kathy. When the hubs’ jobs are rough, it makes everything more challenging. I’ll be praying that God continues to give you a heart of gratitude and the ability to see the circumstances through His eyes. Thank you for stopping by and sharing a bit!

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  8. I hadn’t placed my discontentment that can erupt with complaining. But, it is so! I will go through times feeling I have not enough–in other words, I’m not enough. Surrendering can bring peace can be so hard. I know going back to my identity in Christ always helps, and to be grateful for what I do have. And to not resist those discontented feelings, but instead let God take them with the trust He understands.

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    1. Oh, Lynn. We have this in common. And you’re right, sometimes our discontentment with who we are does come across as us telling God He made us faulty, as not enough. I guess, it’s then that I have to look at what standard we’re holding ourselves to, don’t we? And yes, remembering that our identity is in Christ—always—is key. I appreciate your final sentence about being honest with God about these feelings but then handing them over to Him. Good words, friend!

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  9. I wish we could sit down over hot cups of something and have a nice long chat about all this, Jeanne. Learning to relax in God’s sovereignty has been a lifelong journey for me. One thing that helps me keep the grumbling at bay is remembering how God has provided in the past. I’m not a fan of the pain, either, but you’re right … His provision always is “perfectly enough.”

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    1. Lois, I would LOVE to sit down with you and have a nice long chat. I’m sure we’d have a few giggles in there too. 🙂 I’m like you. Sometimes I need the perspective reminder of the ways God has provided in the past to help me stop my present complaining. I’m so glad you stopped by!

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  10. Jeanne,
    Stubborn soul that I am, I often have to go through a period of trial in order get my heart right with an attitude of gratitude. Lately I’ve had the flue, then bronchitis and now possibly walking pneumonia. I have no stamina, no strength, am completely exhausted and can’t focus. After cursing this crud, I began to see the provision that God was providing me with that I was taking for granted. I was humming along at a pretty rigorous level with my work with RCF, Inc and writing and other responsibilities. Now that I can’t do much, I am so thankful for simpler provisions God has given me. Perhaps I needed an attitude adjustment?? Always love stopping by your peaceful place here!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Awww, Bev. I’m so sorry you’ve been so sick. There’s lots of yuck going around this year. 😦 It’s funny how God meets us in those low-energy places and points our eyes and hearts back to Him. Being able to see His provisions in your situation is such a gift. I’m praying for you tonight, my friend. I hope your times with Him are sweet, and that you’re growing stronger soon. Hugs, friend.

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