Reasons People Complain
Complain: A Definition
To complain is to express dissatisfaction or annoyance about something or someone. The reasons the Israelites complained while in the wilderness for 40 years can be compared to some of the same reasons we complain. Read and see for yourself.
In the desert, the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. (Exodus 16:2)
After Moses delivered the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt, they complained on 14 different occasions during their time in the wilderness. When people complain, they sometimes say things that are not true or logical. For example, the Israelites complained so bitterly that they said they wanted to return to Egypt where they had been enslaved for hundreds of years.
If their complaints were categorized, they would fall into three distinct areas.
- Fear of danger
- Fear of shortages
- Life's inconveniences
After finding out about the Israelites' complaints and the reasons for them, we should examine why we complain. We might be able to see that our complaints fall into at least one or all three of the same areas as the Israelites' complaints.
Fear of Danger
The Israelites had never experienced freedom before because they had been in slavery in Egypt all their lives. Now that they were in the wilderness, they were afraid of enemies. Because they couldn't complain to the enemies that they feared, they complained to those closest to them. They complained to Moses and Aaron who were responsible for taking care of them.
Too often we complain to the wrong people rather than to the people we fear or to those who might cause us harm. The best thing to do if we fear danger is to take our complaints to God who can and will handle all our complaints in the best possible way.
Even though the Israelites were slaves, they were able to plant their own gardens that had squash, garlic, onions, cucumbers, leeks, and other vegetables. They didn't have those foods as they traveled in the wilderness. In fact, they indicated they wanted to go back so they could eat the foods they left behind.
They complained because they didn't have a food supply. Even after God gave them manna from heaven, they still complained. Then God gave them quail to eat.
Like the Israelites, we complain when we experience a shortage of money, friends, success and other things. We complain when we don't have everything we want.
It is much better to thank God for what we have than to complain about what we don't have.
The Israelites complained about a lot as they traveled for 40 years in the wilderness. (See the chart below). In the books of Exodus and Numbers that cover most of the wandering in the desert, we see that they "grumbled, murmured and complained."
Most of the things the Israelites grumbled about were minor in comparison to them been enslaved, but they didn't see it that way. That did not keep them from complaining. Even Aaron and Miriam, Moses' own siblings complained about their brother having a Cushite wife. God punished Miriam with leprosy and put her outside the camp for seven days, according to Numbers 12:1-16. Because Aaron was a priest he did not receive the same punishment.
In our own lives, we complain about minor things such as long lines at Starbucks, the Post Office or the grocery store. We complain about traffic jams and bad weather. So, what are we to do about our complaints?
Whenever you are thinking about complaining, determine if the cause of your complaint is based on fear of some danger, some shortages, or life inconveniences. Try to eliminate the cause of the stress in order to ultimately eliminate the complaint.
Complaint that Moses made things worse for them with Pharaoh.
General complaint for Moses to leave them alone.
Complaint about bitter water.
Complaint about being hungry.
Complaint about being thirsty.
People complain that Moses was on mountain too long.
Compliant about food they were getting.
Aaron and Miriam complain about their brother's leadership.
People complain about the difficulty of entering the promised land.
People complained against Moses and wanted to kill him and select another leader.
Key leaders rebel against Moses.
Moses is accused of killing God's people.
Complain because of no water.
People complain about God and Moses.