The Price of Grumbling

The Price of Grumbling


she resisted grumblingWhen I was young, my sister and I used to play “Anne Frank.” We created a trapdoor that led to the third level of our house on Kenwood Avenue. We’d creep down to the kitchen for food and supplies—Cheerios, raisins, water, Band-Aids, flashlights, books, paper and pencils—hauling it all up to our Secret Annex. When others could be heard in the house, we remained absolutely silent, quieting our dolls if they cried. We never touched the curtains of the two small windows up there. It was a rule, especially when any German sirens sounded.

Anne Frank was a young Jewish girl living with her family in Amsterdam when Nazis seized the Netherlands. Within two years the persecution of Jews escalated. Her family and four others went into hiding, living in a makeshift area of her father’s office building. The “Secret Annex” was only 75 square meters of space for eight people. Employees and friends provided food and information. There, they hid in silence, never going outside for two years.

During their confinement, Anne wrote in her diary day after day. “Her writings reveal a teenage girl with creativity, wisdom, depth of emotion and rhetorical power far beyond her years.”[i]

Her writing avoided grumblingIn August 1944, an unknown person tipped off Nazi soldiers, and the enemy stormed their hideout. Her family was dragged off to Auschwitz where Anne died of typhus seven months later—a few weeks before British troops liberated the camp.

She was only fifteen.

Her father Otto Frank, the sole survivor, later published Anne’s writings. The Diary of a Young Girl, now translated into 67 languages and remains a priceless account.

hope overcame grumbling“For all its passages of despair, (her) diary is essentially a story of faith, hope and love in the face of hate. ‘It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death,’ she wrote on July 15, 1944. ‘I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.’”[ii]

I don’t know many kids who play “Anne Frank” today. Though she died never realizing her dreams, she was still an overcomer. I am intensely drawn to stories of people like her—Helen Keller, Rosa Parks, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King, Johnny Cash, William Wallace, Nelson Mandela, Dr. Ben Carson and numerous others.

To avoid grumbling a choice must be madeBut throughout the years, I’ve learned that suffering often leads to a fork in the road—a choice between destructive self-pity or a decision to trust God with intentionality. To choose the latter sometimes means action. Other times, it comes down to long seasons of waiting on God. The waiting part is hard. Many situations and people are beyond our control. Still, no one can determine what you choose in your own heart.

Helen Keller said, “Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.”[i]

grumbling is a hidden thingIt’s easy to focus on prejudice, persecution, political rancor, illness, disability and countless other sources of suffering in our world, yet many fail to see what self-pity does inside us. Poisoning discontent often causes more devastation than any external force at play.

One of the most interesting verses in the Bible points to this. The whole chapter of 1st Corinthians 10 is about avoiding the mistakes of the Jews in the wilderness. Sure, they had idolatry and immorality issues. Paul says, “God was not well pleased,” with His chosen people.

Grumbling starts smallBut get this—verse 10 says that because God’s people grumbled, the destroyer destroyed them. Grumbling opens up a door for the enemy to wreak havoc in our lives.

That truth struck me cold.

The only commandment of the Big Ten that’s a secret sin is coveting. Grumbling falls into that category. We don’t like our circumstances and covet a different live. The New Oxford American Dictionary says to grumble is to “complain or protest about something in a bad-tempered but typically muted way.”

Grumbling is the stale breath of bitterness.

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce: “Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others… but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God ‘sending us’ to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will be hell unless it is nipped in the bud.”

God can help us overcome grumblingI’ve never suffered like Anne Frank, but I do know this…that grumbling, or any form of discontent, can also stalemate any intimacy with God. It’s something to consider.

Take to God whatever is causing you to grumble. Ask Him for His take on it. Make room for Him to speak. See if He doesn’t give you a word, a phrase, a symbolic picture, a Scripture—something to give you a handle on your situation. Then tell Him you will trust Him no matter what. The price of grumbling is too high. The shift in your heart is worth it.



[ii] Ibid.



  1. Grumble and Gratitude both start with ‘G’.
    I need the Grace to choose the one that Glorifies God.

    a lifetime Goal i’m Going for 🙂

    suzee B