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Thanksgiving Thoughts – A Fine Whine

This posting is Dene Ward’s daily e-mail from 11.26.08.

Americans used to admire “the strong, silent type”–not someone who was uncommunicative, but someone who endured the hardships of life without complaint, a man who always kept a sane head on his shoulders when things got rough.  I don’t know what has happened, but nowadays strength seems to be measured by how loudly a man can rant and rave about his lot in life and anyone he can blame for it.

Our culture has made whining a world class skill.  No, we do not call it whining, but that’s what it is.  We whine about our jobs, about our neighbors, about our families, about our health, about the government–they give all our hard-earned money to other people, but let them cut one of our entitlement programs and we whine even louder about that.  We whine about rising costs, about having to wait in line, about our lifestyles, about the driver in the car in front of us.  We whine about the church, about the singing, about the length of sermons, about the preacher, about the elders, and about how hot or cold the building always is.  Sometimes I feel like getting out Nathan’s violin and accompanying the dirge.  At least it would be easier on the ears–and I don’t even know how to play!

Look at Numbers 11, the classic example of complaining in the Old Testament.  Every place it says weep, weeping, or wept, substitute whine, whining, or whined.  That is probably a perfect word for what was going on.  Look at Moses’ reaction in v 15.  Please allow me to paraphrase: “If this is the way it’s going to be, then do me a favor, Lord, and kill me.  I can’t take it any more.”  Why anyone would think that whining is a measure of strength is beyond me. 

Whining impugns God’s goodness.  Think of all the things God does for us and gives to us, and still we whine.  Blessed is the man whom you choose and cause to approach unto you, that he may dwell in your courts. How can we complain when we have that blessing?  We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy Temple, Psa 65:4.  Because your lovingkindness is better than life, I will praise you.  So I will bless you while I live; I will lift up my hands in your name.  My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips, Psa 63:3-5.  A far cry from whining, isn’t it?

I may think that I am above the effects of my culture, that I am not influenced by the rampant materialism that often motivates this whining.  All I need to do is make a list of things I consider “necessities” to find out otherwise.  All I need to do is keep track of all the times I complain during the day to become thoroughly ashamed.  God destroyed those who whined against Moses.  Why will he accept my murmuring?  The poorest among us is wealthier than 90% of the rest of the world.  Imagine that.  And far beyond that, life is good, if for no other reason than I have a Savior.  In fact, do I need any other reason?

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, blessed are you; and fear not their fear, neither be troubled, but sanctify in your hearts Christ as Lord…1 Peter 3:14,15 Neither murmur as some of them murmured and perished by the Destroyer, 1 Cor 10:10

Dene Ward