“Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” – Philippians 2:14
It was 2 a.m. and I couldn’t sleep. I was staring at the ceiling, and anxieties were filling my soul. My mind was telling me over and over, if only I could sleep, I would be at peace. I persisted to toss and turn, much to the chagrin of my wife. As I stared at the ceiling, I murmured, and grumbled. When I began to realize that this wasn’t going to be a peaceful night’s rest I got up, and did what I always do when I can’t sleep, I went into my office, and began to read the Bible. Of course, I came across the text in Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” No grumbling? What about when you can’t sleep, and you haven’t been sleeping well? Can I grumble then? The text resounded, “Do all things without grumbling.”
After some prayer, I began to search DesiringGod.org for a message from John Piper. I saw a message about the Puritan theologian John Owen. This was providential moment #1, seeing as I’ve been reading John Owen. As John Piper began his message he started with a story about the providence of God. Providential moment #2, I’m beginning to realize God’s providence all around me, and I’m very much awake at this point. He told a story about what he called a ‘dark cloud’ providential moment. He wasn’t prepared to speak, and he got called on to speak. Only to realize he actually was prepared, and he had inadvertently cleared his schedule before-hand.
He said, “Behind every providential moment that there seems to be a frown, there is a smile. These moments that I grumble about, are moments God providentially brings in my life because He loves me.” He began to quote Philippians 2:14, and now he really had my attention. He said, “Why do I grumble?! How often does God have to do this for me? Prepare me for something, without me knowing, only to show Himself faithful, loving, and kind?”
Then it really dawned on me. I am awake right now, because He loves me. I am writing these words right now, because He loves me. I was grumbling because I couldn’t sleep, only to realize the Sovereign Lord Jesus was beckoning me to seek Him. Here I am grumbling about the fact that the creator of the universe has my best interest in mind, at all times. Woe to me, right?
Understanding the providence of God destroys grumbling. How can we grumble if we believe God is weaving all things for our good? Why is this so important, and why would God the Holy Spirit preserve this word in Philippians 2:14 for us to see? Because our grumbling proceeds from a heart that is not trusting God. Our grumbling proceeds from a heart that is loving self. From the overflow of our hearts, our mouth’s grumble. Our grumbling in its very essence is always saying, “I know a better way for this to happen. I know how to accomplish this in a more comfortable, and easy fashion.” When in reality, all of the things we are grumbling about, God is using to accomplish greater depths of sanctification, greater depths of holiness, greater depths of Christ-likeness. I thank God now, for the things I will grumble about later. God accomplishes great things in our souls through circumstances that would make us grumble. There is always a shining sun, behind the darkest providential clouds.