Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pouting and Whining, or Patiently Waiting?

LORD, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I do not get involved with things
too great or too difficult for me.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself
like a little weaned child with its mother;
I am like a little child.
Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
both now and forever.
(Psalm 133 HCSB)
Weaning is the difference between pouting and whining, and patiently waiting. It is not needing to understand everything or getting involved with things that are beyond us. It is not complaining when things don’t go the way we think they ought.

Weaning is very different. It is about calming and quieting oneself. God will not do it for us; we must do it ourselves—it is part of coming to maturity. It is a matter of faith—trusting God—without which we cannot please God (Hebrews 11:6).

In the natural, little children wean away from their mother’s breast. They get less agitated and begin the process of learning patience, trusting that their hunger pangs will be satisfied and their basic needs met.

Many people move past those early forms of weaning; others do not. You can tell them when you see them; they are the ones who whine, complain, mutter and mope about everything. They have not learned patience. The do not calm and quiet themselves. They have not learned how to wean.

Unfortunately, there are even Christians who have not weaned themselves concerning a great many things. They are forever complaining to God. “Well, I don’t understand why God doesn’t do this?” and “Why doesn’t God something about that?” and “How could God let this happen?” They do not exercise self-control. Self-control is in them. It is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), who is in them, but they do not yield themselves to the Spirit and allow Him to bring forth that fruit. When they complain, they are not really trusting God (faith is another fruit of the Spirit).

Because they are not quieting and calming themselves by trusting in God, they are full of fear about everything. What they experience with their senses becomes more real to them than the promise and provision of God. They are controlled by their circumstances and full of anxiety. “God has not given us a spirit of fear,” the Bible says, “but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). The Greek word for “sound mind” actually means “discipline” or “self-control.” In other words, God has given us the ability to quiet and calm ourselves, to wean ourselves.

David learned how to wean himself from a proud heart and haughty eye. When things didn’t go his way, in fact, when things went seriously against him, he learned how to encourage himself in the Lord (1 Samuel 30:6; see How to Encourage Yourself in the LORD for more on this). When the nations were against him, the word he received from the Lord was, “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).

Having learned the lessons of calming and quieting himself before God, his protector and provider, David gives us this advice: “Put your hope in the LORD, both now and forever.” The Hebrew word for “hope” is not tentative, but certain. It speaks of a positive expectation, even a joyful anticipation. It is a word of faith.

Have you learned to wean yourself, to calm and quiet yourself before the Lord, to be still and know that He is God? Are you pouting and whining about the circumstances of your life, or are you patiently waiting. Put your trust in God. Believe His Word, stand on His promises, expect His goodness to come through for you, both now and forever.