Complaining seems to be a natural human tendency.
The Bible is full of examples.
In Numbers 2, the Lord had just given the Canaanites into Israel’s hands and they had utterly defeated them. The Bible says they grew impatient on their journey to the Promised Land and they complained: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!” (Numbers 2: 5b)
This while manna would fall from sky and water would spring forth from rocks and they defeated every enemy in their path. In fact, it seems almost every chapter of Israel’s journey to the Promised Land contains some mention of the people complaining.
A lot of times, it seems all it takes is one person complaining to end something that was an overall good thing—or to stop something good before it even has a chance to get off the ground.
I was listening to Pastor James McDonald preach on Kinship Christian Radio this evening and he read a quote from a speech by President Theodore Roosevelt given to the men working on the Panama Canal in 1906 that I found very interesting:
“Why, gentlemen, there never was a great feat done yet that there were not some men evil enough, small enough, or foolish enough, to wish to try to interfere with it and to sneer at those who are actually doing the work. From time to time, little men will come along to find fault with what you have done; to say that something could have been done better; that there has been some mistake, some shortcoming; that things are not really managed in the best of all possible manners, in the best of all possible worlds. They will have their say and they will go downstream like bubbles; they will vanish; but the work you have done will remain for the ages. It is the man who does the job who counts, not the little scolding critic who thinks how it ought to have been done.”
France began construction of the fifty-mile Panama Canal in 1881 but had to give up because of engineering problems and an incredible number of workers dying on the job, mostly due to yellow fever and malaria. The U.S. took over in 1904 and took another decade to complete what is now known as one of the seven wonders of the modern world. It cost hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives.
But the alternative to building the Panama Canal was sailing around the entire continent of South America through difficult and dangerous seas, a distance of 13,000 miles if going from New York to San Francisco. The canal cuts that distance to less than half and avoids Cape Horn, long regarded as one of the most dangerous places in any ocean.
Most of the people who died building the Panama Canal were paid ten cents per day. (That’s the equivalent of $2.78 in today’s dollars.)
As Christians, we have the opportunity to encourage our fellow Christians to be the light that turns people to Jesus, not for the “treasure” of $2.78 a day, but for eternal treasures in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy.
We have the opportunity to spare people the long and painful journey through the difficult and dangerous seas of life by telling them about Jesus—the one who calms the raging sea.
And, we have the opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ every day of our lives. That has the potential of not just saving lives, but saving the eternal lives of souls.
And that, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, is the greatest wonder in all the world.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)