Do you whine at God?

When my children were young, whining was the hardest thing for me to take. I'd rather face anger than whining, which is like Chinese water torture. It wears you down bit by bit.

I was so relieved when my kids outgrew whining, but when I read the following verses, I wondered if we sometimes sound like whiny kids to God. Don’t the following verses sound like whining to you?

The descendants of Joseph came to Joshua and asked, “Why have you given us only one portion of land as our homeland when the LORD has blessed us with so many people?” Joshua replied, “If there are so many of you, and if the hill country of Ephraim is not large enough for you, clear out land for yourselves in the forest where the Perizzites and Rephaites live.” (Joshua 17:14-15, NLT)

Joshua 16-17 is about the allotment of land given to Joseph’s tribe, which is divided between his two sons’ (Ephraim and Manasseh) descendants. It goes into great detail about the exact provision of land for them. But evidently it’s not enough. They want more.

So what does Joshua say? He tells them to clear the forest. In other words: “Don’t whine; get to work.”

Evidently, the challenge must have been effective because the ESV Study Bible says that the Israelites in this region developed agricultural techniques such as terracing, and buildings such as plastered cisterns and rock-lined silos—all things that were very rare at the time.

This passage made me think about the challenges I am facing. Am I whining about them and declaring life is unfair, or am I asking God what opportunities I haven't noticed yet?

I'm asking him to help me take my focus off what I don't have and instead think about what he wants me to pursue and develop because of my difficulties. I figure if God did that for Joseph’s ancestors, he can surely do that for me.

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