Food. I love to eat good food. I married my husband because he was a great cook (that’s not the only reason – I promise). We delight in cooking good, healthy meals. That all changed though, three weeks ago, when we found out that my oldest has a problem with some foods. A lot of foods. A lot of the foods that we really like, that we had with almost every meal.
This change, while hard for all of us, has been especially hard on my middle little. She does not like anything we eat now. I suffer under the barrage of her complaints through every meal, every snack, all day long. And I get a little angry sometimes. Like when my hands are covered with an egg-carrot mixture from which I am trying to coax an edible snack that she is already sure she won’t enjoy. Like when I am chopping onions, with tears streaming down my face, for what feels like the thousandth time in one day, to make a lunch that she informs me she will hate. It is enough to wear a mama down, especially one who is craving some yummy homemade bread right about then.
One afternoon, as I was yet again fending off her complaints while standing at the counter creating a enticing snack from boring vegetables, it hit me. I, too, am a complainer. I complain all the time. Not to my parents, not to my friends, and not (always) to my husband. But I do complain, often, in fact. She must have come by it honest.
Generally, I don’t direct my complaints to anyone in particular, but I am complaining nonetheless. The words I say, the thoughts in my head. Complaining about my circumstances, my life, the weather, pretty much anything that doesn’t fit my plan. It’s all fair game.
But all that, all those things I bemoan, all those things that I see as troublesome – they are really the gifts of God. They are the things he has for me. This place, my life, my shortcomings, my talents. No matter what I am complaining about, I am basically saying that God is not doing enough. That he is not giving enough, providing enough, loving enough.
Just like my little girl is complaining about this bounty of good food that I am making for her, I am complaining about the flood of blessings that God has given, is giving, to me.
In Hebrews 13:5, we are told to “be content with you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you“.” We have Jesus. With us. All the time. How can I complain when I have that? How can I think that my circumstances are wrong when they include Jesus? Contentment is mine on a daily, hourly, basis. All I have to do is look to Jesus. He has secured all the contentment I need through the cross.
Just like my little love has good food for her body, and is most definitely not starving, I have the bread of life and I am not in want for anything. My plan may not be what his plan is, but his plan is for my good. My plan is for my control, which doesn’t usually work out for me anyway.
Further, though, God tells us to be content with things that we don’t usually see as blessings. “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities” says Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10. “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
That is where I run into trouble. I complain about those things that are hard most of all – frustrating life circumstances, difficult finances, less than stellar relationships with family members, disobedient children, my own failures. Just like my girl complains about what, to her, seems like bad food, I moan about the things that don’t seem right to me. The things that don’t fit my plan.
But I don’t know his plan. Just like my kids don’t yet understand our new eating plan, but can rest in the fact that they will, in fact, be fed, I can rest in the fact that my loving Father will feed me on a daily basis. All the good things that I think aren’t good enough, and all the other things that don’t seem to have any redeeming quality for me at all – those are all part of God’s plan. I will find all that I need in Him. Complaining or not complaining. And I have to say, not complaining seems like a much better option.