Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isa. 40:27-29
Dear heavenly Father, whenever I started to whine as a child, my parents had a way of letting me know our home was a low-tolerance zone for whiners. I “got it” once I became a parent, and then a pastor. Nobody likes to be on the other end of a whine.
Today I find great delight in knowing that, as your children, when you have to discipline us, it’s always in love. You never roll your eyes at us in disgust. You never get exasperated or irritated with us. Though you convict us, you never shame us. The only look you give us declares your welcoming heart. Though you find no pleasure in our whining, you greatly delight in us; for you have hidden our lives in Jesus—in whom you find ultimate joy and pleasure.
Though it presently feels as though heaven isn’t paying attention to some very important things in my heart and story, I hear you say to us in your Word and gospel, “My name is …
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife (or husband, parent, child, or friend). (Prov. 21:9) And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Tim. 2:24)
Dear Lord Jesus, I’m sure this proverb wasn’t generated by a group of men sitting around a Judean campfire complaining about their nagging, “drippy-faucet” wives. For whining, complaining and quarreling are no respecters of gender, age or position in a family system. All of us have our moments of forgetting the gospel and acting like spoiled children.
Today I want to own my penchant for quarrelsomeness, and to ask you to free me for far more healthy and redemptive ways of expressing disappointment, making a point, and engaging in conflict.
Lord Jesus, when I lose sight of the real issue and simply get argumentative with my spouse, friends, kids, or even strangers, arrest my proud heart. I’m very aware that sometimes my need to make my point sabotages my commitment to love well. The result is never good.
When I keep festering on the inside and pestering others, rather than resting in you, expose my insecure ways for what they really are: I’m assuming the role of the fourth member of the Trinity. Lord, I get no joy out of driving the people I love onto the corner of a roof, simply by my bad attitude.
When I get …
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Pet. 1:3-7
Dear heavenly Father, today I need a fresh supply of free grace, for the “various trials,” of which Peter speaks, are sucking my energy like bothersome leaches. I feel a bit weary, easily distracted, and a bad attitude coming on. A part of me just says, “Buck up, you woosie whiner!” But I think the gospel offers a better way.
Honestly, I’m embarrassed to even speak of my trials, because I didn’t go to sleep hungry or thirsty last night; I didn’t hear gunfire echoing through my neighborhood; there’s no plague pillaging my community; I don’t live with the fear of my children being sold into slavery; and my government isn’t threatening the exercise of my faith. These …
I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” . . . Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. Dan. 4:34-37
Dear Lord Jesus, once again I find myself needing a vision of your might and mercy, your dominion and delight, your sovereignty and your goodness—just like the one captured in this remarkable passage. There are two expressions of temporary insanity, or “crazy,” to which I default at times.
Sometimes, like King Nebuchadnezzar, I arrogantly think I’m actually in control of my world. I ignore you, and act like a little sovereign over the micro-fiefdom called “self.” If things go my way, I take the credit. If life is hard, I blame others—after all, I am the point (or so, I can assume).
Other times I act like the consummate orphan. Whine and worry, scrambling and scheming, blame and shame can take over; and I charge you with …
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you. Eph. 1:18
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Rom. 15:13
Merciful Father, if a sheriff knocked at my door this morning to present me with a subpoena, I’d be a bit unsettled. But today, like every day, the gospel is knocking at my door to subpoena me to hope. Nothing is more settling and centering.
Father, thank you for making hope a calling. You haven’t merely extended a general notification or given me a polite invitation. I’m called to hope in Jesus just as surely as you called me to a saving knowledge of his grace, and just as surely as you will call me to leave this life for the next, one day. I wouldn’t think of ignoring a summons from the sheriff; I’d be a madman to ignore a summons from you.
This morning I gladly make myself an object of Paul’s petition. Open the eyes of my heart, Father, and help me see Jesus clearly today. I’d be thrilled to see more of heaven, and all the amazing stuff you’re got planned for us in the new heaven and new earth; but just show me more of Jesus as my perfect righteousness, my constant intercessor, my …
[The older brother] was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Luke 15:28-31
Forbearing Father, meditating through this familiar portion of your Word has taken to me a familiar place again, unfortunately. Though I’d never boast about my many years of serving you—as thought my service merits your acceptance; and I’d never think of boasting in my record of obedience to your commands—as though my works earned a relationship with you; nevertheless, I acknowledge there are times when my ingratitude matches that of the older brother.
This has become obvious to me lately, and I want to repent before it gets any worse. My best repenting happens, not when I grovel, but when I preach the gospel to my own heart, so here goes.
Father, you are constantly running to me in the gospel—inviting me, imploring me, pleading with me to get on the dance floor of your grace—to enjoy the music of reconciliation; to sing the songs of redemption; to make merry to the glory of God.
You are constantly …
Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isa. 40:27-29
Gracious heavenly Father, you are so amazingly patient and kind with us, all the time, even when we lapse into our complaining and whining ways—like your children in Isaiah’s day. Nobody likes to be on the wrong end of a whine. But you never roll your eyes at us. You will never get irritated with us or shame us. Even when you discipline us, it’s in love—unwavering, unabated love.
The only look you give us reminds us of your welcoming heart. Though you find no pleasure in our complaining, you do find great pleasure in your Son; and because you have hidden our lives in Jesus, you find great delight and pleasure in us. Your constancy and compassion are our bread and water.
Though there are times when it feels like we’re being ignored—like you must be too busy with other things to notice us and intervene in our hard stories, precisely at those moments we hear you say to us in the gospel, “Come to me, all of you …
Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isa. 40:27–29
Gracious Father, whining, like gossiping, seems to come to us as naturally as breathing and eating. Whether in our family of origin or in our family of faith, we came out of the womb with an impatient, demanding sense of entitlement. Our parents were the first targets of our selfish attitude, but unfortunately, you experience it from us as well. We know what we want, how we want it and when we want it. It’s a grating annoying mind-set that we simply do not outgrow. I know of no other power, besides the gospel, that can turn whiners into worshippers.
Nobody likes to be on the other end of a whine. I remember my parent’s easy-to-read “get-over-it” body language when I would whine as a child. Nothing would push their buttons quicker, and when I became a parent, I fully understood why. Father, we praise you for being a different kind of parent to us.
Though we give you plenty of reasons to do so, you will never get disgusted with us. You will never roll your …
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. Romans 8:18-21
Heavenly Father, first of all, please know we don’t presume on the privilege of calling you Abba, Father. What a sacred, comforting and joyful privilege. It’s only because of what Jesus has done for us that we claim such intimacy and security. How we praise you for adopting us into your covenant family and writing us into your glorious future. What matchless grace and living hope you’ve given us.
Indeed, Father, holy ache and eager expectation flood our hearts as we meditate on the future you’ve planned for us and for the whole of creation—a future that puts our sufferings and anguish, confusion and disappointments into perspective. Just when we start doubting your mercy and might, yet again, the Spirit starts groaning within us, and we reconnect with our hope. May our groaning become much, much louder than our whining.
“Glorious freedom”—that’s our destiny, that’s our inheritance. May those two words be tattooed on our hearts; an irrepressible melody in our spirits; the lens through which we see all things and participate in your …
[The older brother] was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.” Luke 15:28–31
Forbearing Father, though I’d never boast about my many years of serving you and I’d never even think of boasting in my record of obedience to your commands, nevertheless, I have to admit there are times when my ingratitude matches that of the older brother. This has become obvious and odious to me, and I want to repent before it gets any worse. I know my “best” repenting comes, not by self-contemptuous groveling, but by preaching the gospel of your grace to my needy heart, so here goes.
Father, of all people, what do I have to pout about? You are constantly running to me in the gospel—inviting me, imploring me, pleading with me to get on the dance floor of your grace; to enjoy the music of reconciliation; to sing the songs of redemption; to make merry to the glory of God. You are constantly saying to my grumbling, complaining, discontented, self-righteous face,
“My son, you’re always with me because …