Words of Hope: No Grumbling
This is a strange time to be alive. There is a zeitgeist moving that is full of portent like a mighty storm brewing. I believe the Lord is near though I am not sure what that means. Billy Graham spoke often that Christ was coming back in his lifetime. He fully predicted this, but he was incorrect. How do we consider the message that the Lord is near and returning though it has been almost 2300 years?
I consider James’ letter as a message to me. He says the “Lord is near.” I read this as an important reminder to live each day in obedience and honor of God. He says, “Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord.” He then gives ways we can be patient. He tells us to strengthen our hearts. What an image! My dad had a mighty heart. It lasted longer than his lungs. I think of this when I imagine how to strengthen my heart. The heart is the seat of passion, of love, of energy and drive. It is the place of courage.
I love the next piece of advice James offers us to be patient. We should not grumble. What does it mean to grumble? Grumble means to mutter between your teeth. It is bitterness and faithless complaining. In the context of this passage, James is warning us not to grumble against one another. If we grumble against other people, we will be judged. I would have called Dad right away. “Hey Dad, it doesn’t say you might be judged if you grumble. It says you will be judged. What do you think about this?”
I had a beautiful conversation about grumbling with Shann, “What do you notice I grumble about the most? When do I tend to grumble and who do I grumble the most about?” Shann is always a kind interlocuter and responds in ways that help me notice my faults without having to be defensive or self-protective.
Grumbling has been on my mind for a few days now. During this time, I listened to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, possibly one of the most perfect short stories ever written. Scrooge is a near constant grumbler—his iconic grumbling is known to all “Bah, humbug.” His bitterness robs him of love, generosity, community, and compassion. I see this in myself when I grumble. Guess what the opposite of grumbling is…to rejoice! There are a few consistent people and school programs about which I want to grumble. When I do this, I bring condemnation upon myself. I receive James’s message today with thanksgiving. The Lord is near. He is coming. Be patient, strengthen your heart, follow the example of the suffering and the patient. Instead of grumbling—rejoice!
Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! – James 5:7-10