Grumbling creates conspiracy and fear. Exodus 16:3 says, “The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’” Can you hear the discouragement? Discouraged people say crazy things. There was no Golden Coral in Egypt. And, they were not starving. With plenty of livestock, there was meat and cheese to eat, and milk to wash it down.
Worse still is the lie about Moses. Their hushed mummers created a full-blown conspiracy. Complaining starts out as a little snowball. The more people roll it around, the larger it becomes. Moses was a madman at the helm, determined to commit genocide. Preposterous! How disgraceful! Here was a godly leader who had given up everything to help them. Numbers 12:3 says this about the character of Moses, “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”
Murmuring decimates faith and develops fear. We begin to doubt the intentions of others. We start to wonder if the good people in our lives are working against us. Instead of working it out one on one, we gripe behind their back. Soon, we label them as conspirators and traitors. For example, if we let grumbling into our marriage, we can start to believe we’re sleeping with the enemy. For Satan, whose name means “accuser,” this is his favorite strategy. Once conspiracy takes hold, we turn against one another in our time of greatest need.
Notice Exodus 16:7, “In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” The Israelites targeted their vitriol toward Moses. Notice Moses’ humble response, “Who are we? You’re not grumbling against us but God?”
So often we target our complaints at those in leadership when our beef is with God. This is called displacement. Displacement happens when a person pours out their anger and irritation onto a safer, less threatening target.
After all God had done, they were not happy with their lot, nor with the uncertainty. Where was this leading? When would it end? The cloud and pillar of fire above were not moving fast enough. Sick with bitterness, they threw up on Moses.
Take a deeper look. Often, the reason for our griping is not a person or situation. Our anger is with God, but we go through our days redirecting our frustrations on good people.