Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Complain or Shine

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

– Philippians 2:14-15

To say that it’s hot here in Arizona is an understatement. Lately the highs are averaging at or around 110 degrees. But we’re spoiled here, with central air in virtually every home. We have air-conditioned cars. And public places, like restaurants and movie theaters often over compensate for the heat with the AC, that you’ll often see me carrying a sweater because I get cold inside. It’s hot outside, but we manage.

This Sunday at church, the air conditioner didn’t get turned on at the school where we meet until about an hour before service. It was hot and sweaty in there. One friend commented that it was starting to smell like a locker room. Lots of people were fanning themselves to cool down. It wasn’t comfortable, that’s for sure. But I chose not to complain.

When I encounter times like that, I’m reminded of a few other scenarios I’ve faced:

When I was 14 and we lived in Israel, we spent our spring break in Egypt. On the way to the airport leaving Cairo, our cab driver had trouble with the car. He got out, popped the hood and pulled out a part. He then stuck it in his mouth, trying to clean it out. He had oil all over his face, it was hot and he was sweating. He was obviously worried — perhaps that we wouldn’t pay, perhaps that his livelihood was going to be negatively affected because his cab wasn’t working properly. He was very apologetic and said that he’d get us another cab. My dad said we’d wait a little while, that we had time before we needed to be at the airport. Thankfully, he got the car running and we were on our way.

I’ll never forget that moment. It made me realize, even at the self-centered age of 14, that I have it so much better off than many people in this world. I truly have nothing to complain about.

I was reminded of this again in August of 2005. I was staying at a hotel in California to attend my great-uncle’s funeral. I got in the shower that morning and there was no hot water. I let it run for a long time, thinking that maybe it needed to warm up. No luck. I finally decided to brave it and take a cold shower and was further annoyed when there was horrible water pressure. There’s nothing worse than a cold shower with no water pressure because it takes even longer to rinse shampoo and soap away. As I grumbled in the shower, I remembered something that put me in my place: Hurricane Katrina had happened the day before and so many people were displaced, without the comfort of a place to stay and a cold shower. I bet so many of them would have been thankful for it, and I had taken it for granted.

I recently read this quote, “God isn’t as concerned with our comfort as He is with our character.” God sometimes puts us in uncomfortable circumstances to see how we will react. I try to remember that when I’m momentarily inconvenienced by not having something that many people in the world won’t ever have, like air conditioning. It’s a struggle sometimes, but it’s a choice. We can be thankful for what we do have or we can grumble.

When we have the opportunity to complain, but don’t, it must make God smile because it reflects His character, which allows us to shine like stars in the universe.

Have you ever found yourself complaining about something, but God reminded you of how blessed you are? I’d love to hear about it! Click on this post to leave a comment.


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