Back to the Battlefield

In the blink of an eye, the summer holidays have come to an end, signifying a new start to the school year. As I enter the senior years of high school, I can only imagine how soon I will be swept up in the busyness of routine, with the seemingly never-ending assignments and the dread of the approaching HSC. In this busyness, I realise how easy it is for us to neglect our Christian identity. We unknowingly start to become like every other teen out there, only reserving our faith for Sundays as if Christianity is a sticker we can peel off. 

But if we are living in this way, how are we fulfilling our calling to be representatives of Christ? 

Daily Spiritual Warfare 

Our pastor frequently uses the analogy that us teens are at the forefront, fighting spiritual warfare against today’s culture in our daily lives at school. How can rows of desks in a rustic school building be a battlefield? But school is where countless opposing worldviews and ideologies are thrown at us, testing our faith daily. 

It’s definitely hard living a counter-culture life, but I hope that the two following points can be a reminder and encouragement for us to live out our true calling as we head back to school. Or should I say, back to the battlefield. 

  1. Sacred vs Secular – is there a difference? 

As someone who likes to block out her life on the face of Google Calendar, I have no doubt been guilty of making a distinction between the sacred and the secular in the same way. There always seems to be a divide between the two, and so we persuade ourselves that God is only relevant in the sacred parts of our lives while we are the rulers of the secular parts. 

We stuff going to church on Sundays, serving in ministry and reading morning devotions into the ‘sacred’ box. But doing homework, hanging out with friends, washing the dishes – those are ‘secular’. After all, how can God possibly be involved with our math homework or chores? 

However, we must understand that there should be no difference between the so-called sacred and secular. An activity cannot be sacred or secular in itself, only the attitude of the doer can be. 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us ‘whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.’ There are no separate compartments: God is and should be a relevant part to all aspects in our lives. We are called to be his representatives in everything that we do – even, and especially, in our daily lives as we go to school, do our homework and study for tests that we previously thought were secular. Thus, we must act the same way in school as we do in church, exhibiting our faith and leading others to Christ through our character, work ethic and how we interact with others. 

All things we do, including schoolwork, should be for the glory of God. 

  1. Denying ourselves and carrying our cross daily – what does this mean? 

‘Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it’ (Luke 9:23-24, NIV) 

Although we may seem far from spiritual giants and missionaries that make radical decisions to leave their past behind for their cross, this verse does not apply to us any less. Let’s delve deeper into what ‘denying ourselves’ and ‘taking up the cross daily’ means for us as Christian students. 

In our school lives, we are faced with many temptations, especially through our friends where we may be tempted to simply forget about our Christian identity and join them to indulge in the ways of the world. Living counter-culturally can be awkward and embarrassing, more so if it seems you’re the only one sharing or standing up for God’s truth. But Jesus’ calling to ‘deny ourselves’ refers exactly to these awkward and embarrassing moments. He calls us to say no to  sinful desires and our longing to be accepted by the world. He calls us to put away our pride and fear and boldly evangelise His gospel. He wants us to leave behind our sinful lives to follow in His holy ways. 

‘Taking up the cross daily’ requires our whole-hearted commitment and sacrifice to living out and sharing the truth, surrendering our whole lives to God’s will. 

Not only on Sundays, but in school – every, single, day. 

This calling is not an easy one, and many times we will fall or feel like giving up. But He promises us a life with Him that is far greater, and we can have the assurance that He will be with us in our struggles. 

So as we head back to school, with whatever worries and goals we may have, I hope that we may keep these reminders close to our hearts. I pray that we may all grow together to be bold representatives of Christ in our everyday school life, and fulfill our callings as Christian students.

Let Him Be the Potter

The potter throws the hard lump of clay onto the wheel. As it begins to spin, the tender but firm hands of the potter hold down the squirming lump, moulding and smoothening its surface until he can shape the clay up into a cylinder. He expertly indents his fingers to transform the cylindrical shape into the desired item: a mug. With each spin of the wheel, its imperfections inside and out are pressed and smoothened more and more, until the potter is happy and the mug is ready to be put into the kiln then used. 

You can probably tell by now that I’m not trying to teach you how to make a clay mug. Instead, what I’m showing here is that the image of a potter molding clay is closely parallel to the way God works in our lives. This analogy is quite common throughout the Bible (such as in Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 18:1-23, Romans 9:21 and more!) – God is the potter, that designs and continually shapes us, the clay. And as Romans 9:21 tells us, God as the potter has all the right and power to do whatever He wills to the clay. Yet that leads me to question: how many of us are truly willing to be moulded by Him? 

We like to be in control, and His shaping hurts 

Let’s be honest, who likes the dread and the fear of the unknown? Maybe you’ve recently experienced this dread the night before your assignment is due, and you find youself staring into a blank page. You don’t know if you’ll be able to finish it in time, let alone get a good grade. Your stomach churns and your brain goes foggy. Definitely not a good feeling. 

Naturally, we like it when we’re in control of the situation around us (or when it seems so anyways). Life is more smooth-sailing, with no unexpected surprises or roadblocks that can come our way, and we can comfortably stay in the comfort zones of our sins. 

This comfortable feeling we seek is exactly why we find it so hard to let God be the potter of our lives. Letting God be the potter would mean surrendering everything under His command. As our pastor Rev. Agus likes to put it, it would be like first signing our life away on a blank piece of paper for God to fill in any terms and conditions He wills later. When we surrender our lives, God will point out all our flaws, and just like how the potter molds the clay to perfection, He too will mold our flaws away in the long process of sanctification. Sometimes God will allow us to suffer, or be rebuked by loved ones. We may experience sadness, loneliness, or struggle with the temptations of the world. 

His shaping will be uncomfortable. And it will hurt.

But in the end, it is worth it because the life we live under God’s rule is the best life we can ever have – one where we experience the joy and contentment in our gracious Father and Lord, and in the assurance of eternal salvation not found in any temporary things of this world. His shaping is done with and through His ultimate love for us, and in this process, we will grow to know Him more, become more like Christ, and be equipped to be used by Him if He wills. 

So what if we’re not willing? 

It is still important to note that God never forces us to do anything. 

He wants our willing obedience. 

So what if we’re not willing to leave our comfortable life in sin, and fully submit under His shaping? A hard but true reality is that God does not have to use us, and He will not use us if we don’t have a soft and teachable hearts. He let the Israelites wander in the desert for 40 years due to their own hardened hearts which caused their distrust and failure to obey God’s commandments (Exodus 16). And in the same way, if we harden our hearts, God can simply let us be. 

God does not need us. Rather, we are in the disadvantage if our hearts continue to rebel against His shaping, because we will lose time that we could otherwise have used to serve Him, especially in our youth where we have the most time and energy to do so. We won’t experience the true satisfaction and joy that’s only found in a personal relationship with Him. Moreover, we won’t be able to fulfill our life’s purpose to know God and be used by Him. 

So remember, God wants our willing obedience. 

It starts with a humble heart 

To surrender our lives for God to be the potter, we need to start by putting away our pride. Let us learn to have a meek and humble heart, looking towards Jesus who is the perfect example of humility; obedient even to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:8). May we grow to understand that all we are, and ever will be is the result of God’s works in our lives, and we cannot take credit for any of it. Instead, our life’s purpose is to bring glory to our Creator; not for our will to be done, but His will. That is the humble attitude of heart we ought to have to truly submit under God’s shaping. 

End of Year Reflections 

As I bring to a close my final article for 2023 (how time has flown!), let us pause and self-introspect. This year, have we truly surrendered our lives to God, or are our hearts still hardened and unwilling to be shaped by Him? Have we grown closer to our Creator, or further away from Him in our rebellious nature? Are we willing for God to be the potter in all the aspects of our lives, and to give Him the power and glory He deserves? 

May our desires and prayers, as we reflect over the past year and look forward to the next, be dedicated to letting Him be the potter of our lives. 

“But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8) 

Purposeful and Persistent Prayer

“Dear God, I pray that you will be with me in this maths test I am nervous for.” 

“I pray for my friend who is currently sick, may you restore her health.” 

“Lord, I pray for my future, that I may get into a good university and find a godly spouse.” 

If you’re anything like me, these prayer points probably sound quite familiar. I often find myself voicing out my needs and wants to God in prayer. However, the more I learn about and understand the true purpose of prayer, I realise the scary truth that many of us may be guilty of treating God as some mere magical genie that can grant us all our heart’s desires. 

Of course, it is not wrong for us to be voicing out our physical needs to God. He knows of those needs and will provide for us like he provides for the rest of His creation (Matthew 5:25-26). But, praying is so much more than that. 

Prayer is one of the most important means of grace, and it is through prayer that God guards and preserves the spiritual relationship between us and Himself. It is also through prayer that the Holy Spirit enables believers to receive Christ, and in Him, the blessings of redemption. 

Prayers Pointing Back To Him – The Lord’s Prayer 

If there’s only one point you take away from this article, let it be this: All our prayers should ultimately point back to God and His glory, because our life’s purpose is to glorify His name. 

Our church’s catechism class recently did an exposition on the famous Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), which is the prayer that Jesus taught us. It is a prayer many of us can probably recite off by heart, but how often do we really reflect on its structure or meaning of its lines? 

To put it briefly, the Lord’s Prayer can be split into two main overarching themes: concern for God’s glory, and concern for our needs. 

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10) 

The prayer begins with the expression of concern for God’s glory. We pray that God’s name be glorified as it should be through our understanding of His truth, and ask that God’s will and kingdom comes into our lives through the preaching of His Word and our obedience to it. Notice how the concern for God’s glory comes before petitions for any of our own needs? This prayer teaches us how we ought to pray –  with God as the priority right from the start. 

“Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:11-13) 

Next, the prayer speaks of concern for our needs. We can ask God for our needs for the day, because we are taught that all our physical needs are provided for by God. But even more than that, we are taught to ask for our spiritual needs, such as for His forgiveness and help during times of trial. 

“For Yours is the kingdom and power and glory forever.” 

The prayer ends with the doxology – the return of all things to God’s glory. Jesus teaches us here that after lifting up all our petitions, everything is ultimately for the glory of God. 

Reflecting on this prayer truly made me realise that though we don’t pray the Lord’s Prayer word for word in our daily prayers, we should pray with the same framework of heart. Whether we are praying for a hard exam or a good future career, may we not focus on the petitions themselves, but on the giver. Let us first seek Him (Matthew 6:33) and surrender everything to God so that whatever the result, it is in accordance to His will and brings glory to His name. 

Praying with Persistance 

We also often hear that we should continue praying in perseverance, but what does that even mean? Does it mean uttering the same prayers every day just as routinely as brushing our teeth? Not quite. Praying with persistence is to pray without ceasing. It means to keep praying even when we’ve had a long day and just don’t feel like it, or if our prayers yield no visible results. 

We have an assurance in God’s promise that if we pray with the correct attitude of heart, and with perseverance, He will certainly give us an answer. 

I am reminded of an analogy where persistent prayer is likened to a court case, where the plaintiff and defendant are both fighting hard for an outcome that they want. Even if the trial process takes years, they are patient and continue to persevere, putting in all their energy and resources until the final verdict is given. Much like us in our prayer lives, we don’t know when our prayers will be answered, or what the final ‘verdict’ will be. Sometimes we may be given what we want, other times we may be disappointed, or told to wait a bit longer. But in hindsight, whether the outcome is good or ‘bad’, we will discover that all things are part of His sovereign plan for our good. 

So, I challenge you to join me in praying with purpose and persistence. Not just praying for our physical needs to get through the day, but more importantly, raising petitions that align to the contents of God’s heart: for His will to be done in our lives. 

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) 

Sowing Gospel Seeds

Do you remember the last time you openly talked about your faith or shared the Word of God with a friend? 

Unfortunately, the consistent fear of ridicule and rejection, alongside secularist society’s ‘taboo’ of talking about anything regarding religion, wipes out many Christian teens’ desire to evangelise to the non-believers around them. 

But even as teenagers we are all called by God to evangelise (Matthew 28:19).

What Is Evangelism? 

Firstly, we need to understand that evangelism is not us trying to ‘save’ unbelievers, or to convert them so they may escape the terrifying end in darkness and hell. Rather, evangelising is the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ to unbelievers. We’re sharing the goodness we have experienced for ourselves as believers, and bringing about His kingdom on this earth. 

Something we should remember about evangelism is that it’s done as part of a church. As the body of Christ, all of us have unique callings when serving God. This is seen in church ministry, where different people are used in different ministries. These can range from music to technology based on their talents. We often forget this image as the body of Christ when it comes to evangelising. All of us are called to evangelise, but not all in the same ways. Evangelism shouldn’t just be exclusive to the preachers or cell group leaders that teach us the Word of God weekly; everyone has their part to play, just as every part of the body has a different function. 

Evangelising Through Mission 

I give thanks that our church, IREC Sydney, is able to partake in mission. Currently around 41 members (fellow teens included!) are in Biak, evangelising to remote Indonesian villages and holding events such as regional gospel rallies to preach to children and adults alike. Evangelism through mission is a big calling for the church, and we continuously pray for the team and those being preached to, that His Word may reach the unreached. 

If you are called to the mission field, its important to understand that mission is a special calling. It is part of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19) and even from the earliest period of the churches in the New Testament, mission was an important ministry adopted by all the disciples and most importantly, Jesus himself! 

However, it is also important to note that not everyone is called to the mission field. As many of us have looked upon our own church’s mission, or are accustomed to hearing stories of great missionaries like Hudson Taylor who served for 54 years in China, or Jim Elliot who gave his life for the gospel in Ecaudor, we subconsciously misunderstand that mission is the only way for us to ‘successfully’ evangelise. 

So How Do We Start Evangelising? 

  1. Start in our friendship circle

We can start evangelising little by little to the friends closest to us. This can involve simple things like bringing up religion in a conversation during lunch, and sharing our faith and beliefs. We could ask our friends how they are doing from time to time, or ask them how we can pray for them. Maybe we could even try inviting them to our church’s Sunday service, or to a youth event (hint hint Regeneration-Z’s next event!). 

Jokes aside, we can evangelise to our friends and share the gospel with them in our everyday conversation and interactions. Personally, my friends and I have started a ‘Sisters in Christ’ WhatsApp group chat recently, where we send each other encouraging messages, bible verses, or memory verses from our school scripture class. 

Though such opportunities for sharing the Word may be rare, we should always try to be intentional when evangelising through our conversations, and pray that God may give us the strength and courage to speak out when the chance comes. We should keep praying for those same friends afterwards too, that God may soften their hearts and they may receive the Word that we have shared. 

  1. Live as a testament

We can also evangelise to others by living as a testament, allowing others to see Jesus through our life and actions as much as our words. Many of our friends may be hard atheists or strong believers of a different religion, and it may seem forceful and hostile as we try to share the Word of God with them. However, we should not fight hostility with hostility, or try to impose our opinion and beliefs on them. Rather, through grace, humility and sacrificial love, we can reveal the goodness of God through our life. 

We don’t have to stand in front of hundreds preaching the Word of God, powerfully proclaiming the words ‘Repent, repent!’. Instead, our character and person is as loud a preaching as what comes out of our mouths. After we have experienced Jesus and His ultimate love and sacrifice for us, our character will be changed, and the spiritual fruits we bear will reveal to the world that we are His. (John 13:35) 

Start Sowing 

Wherever we are in our life contexts, God has called us to evangelise to others. It is definitely easier said than done, and we will get scared. We can only pray and trust that God will give us the right words to say, and work through us to proclaim His glory to the unbelievers. We have no control over the outcome of our evangelism; whether the person will turn to accept Christ or not is only according to God’s will. 

But we can start by sowing the first gospel seed. Little by little, as more sowers sow the seeds of the gospel into the life of an unbeliever, by God’s grace, they may one day reap a glorious harvest. 

Joanne Soviner (14) is one of the writers and designers for RE Generation-Z. She strives to share God’s love and grace she has received and the truth she is learning with other teens. She enjoys dancing, bullet journalling, and learning new languages.

Now, Not Later

“Just another 15 minutes…Once I finish this video, I’ll start my assignment,” you say casually. 

As planned, the video concludes 15 minutes later. You are just about to switch tabs to start your assignment…but wait! Your eyes subconsciously glance at the side bar of recommended videos, and the next video catches your attention. Conscience and Will start playing a game of tug of war as you manouever your mouse, hovering it over the next video. 

‘Uh oh. Not this again! You said you were going to stop after one video!’ Conscience cries out, warning you of the dangers of your next actions. 

But it’s no use. ‘Experienced’ in this sinful habit, you simply shut out the warnings, and Will emerges as the victor once again. After all, just one more video wouldn’t hurt, right? 

Our Generation’s Infamous Struggle 

I’m sure we all know how that story ends: the original 15 minute video unknowingly turns into hours of wasted time, trapped in the neverending loop of Youtube’s recommendations. Once we realise our mistake, it’s the end of the day, and all we are left with is an unfinished assignment and the regret that we have once again fallen into this sinful habit. 

Procrastination. It’s our generation’s infamous struggle. 

We see it everywhere – in ourselves and in all our friends around us. As we live in a world increasing with technology and social media galore, the temptation to procrastinate only gets worse. It almost seems as if there’s an invisible force that keeps us itching to constantly check our phones for the latest notifications, or scroll through Instagram to see what our friends are up to. We can’t seem to stop, and it’s frustrating – why does our heart long to indulge in every worldly pleasure out there, instead of doing the tasks we actually need to do? 

Now, Not Later 

Procrastination isn’t a simple matter to be taken lightly. Whether we admit it or not, this sinful habit and nature has penetrated every one of us. And as we continue to procrastinate and delay the many duties we have in our lives, this dangerous habit grows and affects every aspect of our lives – even our relationship with God. 

As teens, we think that we still have so much of life ahead of us. The message often broadcasted through media is, ‘Oh it’s okay, you’re still young. Enjoy life while you can, do what you want, YOLO!’ But we fail to realise that as we’ve been squandering our lives away, misusing the precious time God has given us to indulge in worldly ways, time has continued moving. Only when we start seeing siblings, friends and others around us leave their teen years and enter adulthood, it suddenly hits us that we don’t actually have that much time left. 

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 

Living for Christ starts now. Sharing God’s truth starts now. Seeking to know God starts now

Not later. 

Let us not procrastinate on our spiritual lives, or live a wasted life that leaves God only for ‘someday’. While we are still young, and have the time, energy and opportunity to serve God, let’s use our time wisely to obey His calling for us. 

Battle on Bended Knees 

No matter how many times we’ve written ‘Overcome procrastination’ as one of our New Years’ Resolutions, it never really seems to happen. Even if we are willing in spirit, our flesh is too weak to fight the temptation of being lazy, selfish and procrastinating on the things we need to do. 

Procrastination is a spiritual battle – a fight against worldly temptations, against our sinful will. It is a long and hard battle that tests our self-control, obedience to God and our ability to live in holiness. 

But may we look upon our perfect God as an example, and fight this battle on our knees with pleading, prayer and reliance towards Him. Together, let our hearts be shaped to stop the sinful habits of procrastination and seek to please and glorify Him. 

Joanne Soviner (14) is one of the writers and designers for RE Generation-Z. She strives to share God’s love and grace she has received and the truth she is learning with other teens. She enjoys dancing, bullet journalling, and learning new languages.

The Hope Amidst Our Loneliness

As teens, most of us wouldn’t say we’ve experienced much suffering or affliction. The average teen isn’t struggling financially, dealing with a stressful job (or kids), or having difficulties maintaining their health. Of course, we get stressed sometimes with the busyness of schoolwork or assignments, but for the most part, teens live life as it comes – one day at a time. 

But our generation faces a major problem. Loneliness. 

Now you’re probably wondering: We’re Gen-Z, the most technologically-advanced generation of all time, with easy access to a social life online and off, so how could we possibly feel lonely? 

But loneliness is quite different to being alone. Even people who, on the outside, always seem happy and are surrounded by many friends – they may still feel desperately lonely and empty on the inside. 

For us, loneliness isn’t the lack of friends; it’s the lack of acceptance. And especially as Christian teens, society is quick to reject us when we are not ashamed of our faith, when we no longer love the world but walk in holiness, or simply for reasons relating to our appearance or personality. 

So how are we supposed to face this problem without falling down the slippery slope of self-deprecation or pity? 

A Source of Comfort and Strength  

“Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)  

Knowing and trusting in God and His providence is our source of comfort and strength when we feel most alone and anxious. In His providence, God graces us with every good and spiritual gift, including the special grace that we may have a ‘new’ life in Christ. Now, the Holy Spirit dwells in us (Romans 8:10-11), and enables us to have a restored relationship with Him. 

In this ‘new’ life, we are set apart from the world – to be holy, and to be used by God. It is no surprise that we are alienated from the world. 

But even then God remains our truest friend, whom we can turn to in prayer. He is our refuge (Psalm 62:8), strength and comfort. Trusting in God’s providence towards us, His children, gives us strength in knowing everything He does is for our good (Romans 8:28). We can also trust that he cares for us and accepts us no matter what the world thinks of us. 

As God looks after his creations like the birds of the air, how much more will He look over us; His greatest creation whom He made in His own image? Take comfort and strength in His providence, knowing that He is with us and sustains us always. 

Patience and Trust in His Timing 

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11a) 

God’s providence is under His sovereign control, and everything He gives to us is made beautiful according to His will and timing. Understanding that God’s ways are very different to our ways helps us to be patient, even through times of loneliness. 

Everything we receive through His providence, whether the good or the bad, is used to shape us in becoming more spiritually mature and preparing us to bear good fruits. Hence, His continued providence reminds us it is worth waiting and continuing to trust Him. Even if we do not receive happiness right now, at the end of the race there is a greater reward for us in heaven. (Hebrews 12:1-2) 

Encouragement for Times of Loneliness 

For those who may be facing times of loneliness right now, I encourage you to persist in patience, knowing that all your circumstances stem from God’s good and perfect providence. His marvellous plan lies past this tough time, so keep trusting in His providence, with prayer and petition to Jesus, the truest friend – and He will guide you and deliver you. 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) 

Joanne Soviner (14) is one of the writers and designers for RE Generation-Z. She strives to share God’s love and grace she has received and the truth she is learning with other teens. She enjoys dancing, bullet journalling, and learning new languages.

Contentment in the Wilderness

Do you often find yourself complaining about the many little unpleasant things that happen in your daily life? From waking up late and missing the train to school to your annoying friends or siblings; about the heavy workload and assignments given by your teachers, or about the high-speed internet connection that was just not fast enough to your liking.

We are all too familiar with these ungrateful comments that consciously (or unconsciously) come out of our mouths daily. Whenever something doesn’t go our way, we easily get annoyed, and our first impulse is to complain. 

“An ungrateful teenager” is a stereotype often attached to us, which unfortunately holds some truth.

We might think it’s okay (and normal) to spurt out our vexation whenever we feel like it; however, the Bible teaches us not to take this sin lightly. We may not realise it, but complaining is no less deadly a sin as idolatry.  

The deadly cost of complaining 

Most of us would be familiar with the story of the Israelites being delivered from slavery in Egypt. During their journey towards Canaan, the Promised Land, the Israelites started to complain towards God. 

God had given them plentiful manna to eat, yet they had other cravings, grumbling at the entrance of their tents for God to give them meat. 

“If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Numbers 11:4a-6) 

Soon, God granted them meat, yet the Israelites continued to grumble over their hardships. 

When some of the men, sent to explore the land of Canaan and observe its people, returned to the camp with bad news, the Israelites grumbled once again. Upon hearing

how big, strong, and powerful the Canaanites were, and how the Israelites would not stand a chance if they were to attack them, they wished they had stayed in Egypt, where they seemingly had a better life with safety and comfort. 

“If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2-4)

They even rebelled against Moses and Aaron, wanting to stone them, then choose a new leader and go back to Egypt. 

All their grumblings made God furious. He had already provided the Israelites with so many blessings, yet they were still ungrateful and complained a lot. Because of this, they were kept from entering the Promised Land, and as a result, destined to roam in the wilderness for forty years instead. (Numbers 14:26-35) 

Fast forward more than 3000 years later, and we still have the same disease of complaining that is no different from the Israelites’. We have been blessed abundantly, yet we keep complaining over the little things in life. We should learn from the Israelites’ mistakes and realise that complaining is the initial step away from God that will cause a multitude of destructive sins to follow. 

Just take a moment to think about some recurring sins we do. Maybe it is being envious of others, frequent fights with our siblings, or disrespecting our parents and teachers – trace it back to its root, and we’ll most likely find that it is related to being ungrateful. Ungrateful for our God; ungrateful for what God has done in us, and ungrateful for what God has given to us. All these are by no means small sins, and they all deserve God’s wrath.  

Overcoming daily life’s struggle – choosing gratitude over complaint 

Have you encountered real daily struggles choosing gratitude over complaint? 

Do you find it easier to complain than to give thanks? 

Do you easily get irritated when things don’t go your way?

According to pastor and author, Paul David Tripp, the decision to complain or to give thanks are both rooted in the way we view ourselves. “Complaint”, he said, “is an identity issue –  a severe case of misplaced identity.

He wrote, “If we place ourselves in the centre of our world and reduce our concerns down to what we want and feel, we will operate with an entitled and demanding attitude.” 

This entitled attitude will spur us to complain when things are not as we want. 

Tripp added, “The universe wasn’t created – nor does it operate – to satisfy our desires. We regularly don’t or can’t get what we want.”

There, he hits the bull’s- eye, and bluntly tells us the reality that we are not the centre of the universe; the world doesn’t and will never revolve around us! Thinking so will only make us a complaining person. 

As we are sinners, we are supposed to receive God’s wrath, yet we are saved. All that we receive are undeserved blessings that God has graciously given to us, even though we are not worthy. When we recognise that we are debtors to God, and that God is not obliged to give us anything, we will be humbled, and learn to be grateful instead of complaining. 

Furthermore, the small insignificant inconveniences that we complain about in our everyday lives should be taken as practise and training for the bigger struggles that will occur later in life. As Christians, we should all expect to receive more infliction, than those of the world. Since our teen years, we should practise being grateful instead of complaining about small inconveniences, rather recognising God’s plan behind them so that we can be prepared to face bigger struggles. 

We can all learn from the God-centered mentality of apostle Paul, who could still praise God even though he was arrested and imprisoned. Looking past all of his own circumstances and hardships, instead, he focused towards God’s good plan. If we change our self-centered lives to become God-centered, we can avoid becoming slaves to our circumstances and rather, become grateful for God’s providence in our lives – trusting in God’s plan behind all of our life circumstances, no matter how different they may be to our own desires. 

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Joanne Soviner (14) is one of the writers and designers for RE Generation-Z. She strives to share God’s love and grace she has received and the truth she is learning with other teens. She enjoys dancing, bullet journalling, and learning new languages.

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