By: Zia Myrrh Aquino
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV)
Have you ever read a Bible story and thought, “If I had been there, I wouldn’t have done that; I wouldn’t have eaten that fruit in the Garden of Eden; I wouldn’t have denounced Jesus three times; I wouldn’t have complained in the wilderness like the Israelites.” If we look at those stories, we can see that God dealt with each of the cases differently. In the case of the Israelites, God helped them out from being slaves in Egypt, yet, they complained a lot more than praising God. They thought more about what they wanted, and not what they needed. They thought about themselves more than giving thanks to God. The nation of Israel has a long history of grumbling and complaining. Even these days, grumbling and complaining is one thing we don’t get too concerned about. Everybody grumbles about something, even in little things. Husbands and wives complain about each other. Christians grumble about one another– even about their leaders. And this kind of attitude is being passed on to their children. And I often get the taste of it. Every Monday and Tuesday, I have to tell a Bible story before I start my lesson. And during these days, I can hear the same grumbling again and again. As I start telling my Bible story, a group of kids would shout in unison, “Teacher, 싫어요 (I hate it). But I just ignore them. A little later, I could hear another chorus saying, “Teacher, 알아요! 그만해요(Please stop. I already know that). To cheer myself up, I’d appreciate them for knowing the story and I’d ask them questions. Then another chorus would interrupt me and say, “Teacher 빨리빨리해요 (Hurry up, please).” I’d feel like bursting when I hear that but going on with the story is still a better option. As I continue with the story, I could see some children doing their own thing. Some are running while others are standing on the chairs and tables. Then a kid would raise his hand and ask, “Teacher, 언제 끝나요 (When will we finish?)” When I hear it, all I want to do is to stop, but I always choose the harder, yet the better option: I close my eyes, say a short prayer and smile. I would often ask myself why I had to tell Bible stories to children who didn’t want to hear them. I have even suggested to my Korean partner that I should stop telling Bible stories because the children wouldn’t listen anyway. But later on, I realized that God didn’t put me here because I can’t handle things but He put me here because He knew I can. And I’m so thankful to God for the gift of patience. God tests us. It’s a fact of life. How often do we do what God wants us to do? How often do we complain? If God gives us no rough roads to walk, no mountains to climb and no battles to fight, we will never grow. God stands beside us, teaches us and strengthens us as we face each new challenge.
As missionaries, we have to be strong, for every day we have challenges as our partner, temptations as our companion and trials as our best friend. But let us remember that everything that comes in our lives, if we face them with God, is not that bad after all. They are a way for us to remember and to thank God that He is great every time, any time, and all the time. We should spare no room for complaints.