We American's are somewhat obsessed with rights and liberties. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the freedoms we have in America, even if it seems they have eroded a bit. I'm thankful for those who have sacrificed their own freedom and lives to establish our nation, and to continue to protect our freedoms. Living outside my homeland for fifteen years, and traveling through several other nations, has given me an even greater appreciation for it.
Many American's act as if our rights and liberties are sacrosanct wherever we are and whoever we are. I saw this over and over again with people visiting our ministries in the Philippines, over the past couple decades. They thought their US passport extended their rights and freedoms wherever they travel in the world. It doesn't.
I often explained to American citizens that they were guests in whatever country they visited. That's the idea of a visa. It gives visitors limited privileges under the sovereign nation's government that grants the visa. Many Americans found this hard to understand. Visitors from other nations from Europe, Australia, Canada, or other Asian countries did understand this. That's what I mean by saying we Americans are somewhat obsessed with our rights and liberties. We feel entitled. And so, ranting is a right.
Years ago, during the late 70's, America was in an economic crisis with exorbitant gas prices. Sound familiar? I remember people in my congregation ranting about service stations "making a killing" at the customer's expense. But I knew a few gas station owners. They told me how they were squeezed between keeping their business open and the cost of buying gasoline from their suppliers.
The Lord reminded me that behind every gas station dealer was a supplier and oil company they had to deal with. But who pressed them? Who did they have to contend with? Ah, it's the Oil Cartel, they're the culprits! It's a conspiracy! But, if it's a conspiracy of sorts to get our hard-earned cash, who do they answer to? The devil! That's it! But who does the devil answer to? Doesn't he have to answer to God?
If you believe in the sovereignty of God, then somehow He's behind it all. But then, maybe it's not some grand conspiracy against us. After all, if you're a Christian believer, doesn't the Bible say God is for us? If so, "Who can be against us...?" (Rom 8:31)
This can be hard to keep in view as we deal with day to day life. We tend to focus on what's in front of us. The immediate circumstance. This is where faith, genuine faith, is valuable. Faith requires trust and enables us to see beyond the obvious (Heb 11:1, 6).
When Moses was leading God's people out of Egypt through the wilderness and towards the Promised Land, the people complained (Exo 16:2-3). They were unhappy. They wanted food. Seems like a reasonable need.
But Moses had just led the tribe of Israel (about 3 million strong) out from oppressive slavery in Egypt. There they saw powerful, miraculous signs from God. They saw God bring them through a supernaturally parted Red Sea and annihilate their enemies in it. But now they complained. They ranted. They didn't trust that Moses, nor God, could take care of them.
After God and Moses talk things over (Exo 16:4-5). Moses addresses the people, "Your grumbling is not against us but the LORD" (Exo 16:8). Moses saw beyond the immediate situation by faith. He went to God to talk things over. He kept the previous evidence of God's faithfulness in view. He had a true perspective, a right view of things.
So, do we have the right to rant and complain? Go for it. You can have it if you want it. But who are you really ranting against? The perceived problem? Or God? Or can you see beyond the immediate circumstance?
What good does ranting do anyway? I've done my share of ranting and complaining, but never seen it do much good. How about you?
When I find myself complaining and get to the point of wanting to rant, I know I need to take a step back and look at things from a different view. I need perspective, a right view of things. I rely on my faith and my trust in God.
What do you rely on? Do you rant, or do you put your trust in God?