Whining and Throwing Tantrums

I was in crisis.

Days before the start of the new school year, my daughter complained that her throat hurt, and then there was the fever, and the vomiting.  I wanted God to heal her overnight, pronto, ASAP, immediately, snap-to-it—Amen!

He didn’t.

‘Twas the night before school started and all through the house,
A fever was stirring–that dreaded louse.
The backpacks were placed on the counter with care
In hopes that the school year soon would be there.

The girls were all tucked in, warm in their beds
With dreams of pencils and crayons in their heads.
Except for one daughter whose throat hurt a lot
And whose forehead and body and feet were too hot.

So I began to throw a “holy tantrum,” which is anything but holy.  It involves a little bit of stomping, some harumphing, and a whole lot of whining.

“Lord, seriously?  Why is she going to miss the first days of school?   Now I have to take her to the doctor and get a Strep test on an already busy day.  She hates the antibiotic and always spits it out  . . .whine, whine, whine, whine, whine.”

Yes, it’s my go-to flesh reaction to life’s annoyances and there I was once again at 5 a.m. throwing a tantrum.

And I threw another tantrum when, after a doctor’s appointment, a visit to the pharmacist, and a fight with my daughter over the antibiotic, my husband noticed that my toddler had hurt her ear.  “She needs to go to the doctor.”

My fatigue was moving around my soul like a spotlight, ushering the weakest and ugliest cast members of my heart onto the stage for all to see.

I whined to myself: “I was just at the doctor’s.  This is not the week to move into the medical office building.  Why couldn’t we have noticed this the day before, God?  Don’t You understand the power of multi-tasking and appropriate calendar management?”

Of course it’s no surprise that when I myself began to struggle when swallowing, I whined yet again.

This week has been one topsy-turvy event after another.  Nothing going as planned.  No day’s schedule left untouched.  No moment when we are all well.

But when you’ve whined for days to God . . . eventually you grow quiet.  You’ve plead your case.  There’s a moment when you’ve said all you had to say and you expect God to answer for Himself.

He prompted my heart:

Is it really worth all this, Heather?  When she’s 40 years old, will Lauren’s life be destroyed because she missed the first few days of first grade?

Is it really so terrible if your days don’t go as expected?  Aren’t I always in control?

What about the moms whose children are chronically ill? You are whining over Strep throat.  Some moms cry in the night over cancer.

You are sick in the short-term.  For a few days, it’s hard to care for your family, but a few doses of antibiotics will restore you.  What about the moms who face chemo treatments week after week, or who have MS or fibromyalgia and endure chronic pain and fatigue? 

When I declare “It’s dinner time,” and my kids are in the middle of a game or I turn off the TV so they can finish homework or practice piano, sometimes my children whine. (I wonder where they get that from!)  It’s one of my mom-speeches, quoting at them “do everything without complaining and arguing” (Phil. 2:14 NLT).

Don’t just obey; obey with a cheerful heart.  Trust your mom.  Be grateful for what you have and compassionate for those who have not.

Can’t God say the same to me?

Multiple trips to the doctor’s office?  Convincing children to take yucky pink medicine?  Becoming a “frequent flyer” at the pharmacy counter?  Trading in productivity and accomplishment for a cup of hot tea and oatmeal that feels too thick to swallow?

It all may seem like a crisis in the moment, and maybe we deal with our burdens begrudgingly.

But God is far more interested in our heart condition than in the accomplishments of our day or the success of our plans.

Are you obeying with the right attitude—without grumbling about it? (Philippians 2:14)
Are you not just a giver, but a cheerful one? (2 Corinthians 9:7)
Are you doing more than enduring; are you rejoicing in all things?  (Philippians 4:4)
Are you going through the motions of loving others, or are you really loving them?  (Romans 12:9)

This is God’s concern.  We can do what He asks of us and still get it all wrong.  We can take care of our families and work hard at our jobs and tend to every ministry need and still miss it completely.

He wants us to follow, serve, and obey with a trusting, cheerful, peaceful, loving, rejoicing heart.  He wants us to have a heart like His.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

One Week Without a Voice: Lesson One

I woke up last Tuesday, my throat ablaze with scratchy, swollen soreness, and when I opened my mouth to respond to breakfast requests from my kids–there was nothing but squeaky attempts at language.  I pushed out the word, “Breakfast?” and then handed around the cereal bowls as requested.  Thus ended our morning conversation.

This was a problem.  Having only finished one night of our five-night long Vacation Bible School, I had a week of speaking and singing ahead of me.  A week of object lessons and praise songs. A week of yelling out our Bible point for each night and a week of rallying excitement among the kids.

And no voice.

I gargled and drank tea.  I used throat spray and became a chain sucker of cough drops.  I drank enough water to float away and faithfully popped vitamins every night.

But my chief strategy became rest.  All day, every day I didn’t speak.  If necessary, I whispered, but mostly I was a silent member of my household.

A week as one of the voiceless got me thinking about what we say and how we say it, how our words reflect our heart, how we’re called to be listeners, and more.

Lesson One: What I Say Is Who I Am

By the end of each hushed day last week, I stepped onto the stage at church and spoke the first full-voiced words in about 24 hours.  “Welcome to VBS!  We’re so glad you’re here tonight . . . ”  My only normal vocalizations each day were lessons about God’s Word to children.

That week reminded me of the story about a woman who sought closeness to God, so she joined a convent and took a vow of silence.  One day each year, each woman was allowed to speak just two words to the Mother Superior.  After one year, the woman stood in the long line and spoke just two words when it was her turn:  “Bed hard.”  A year later, she stood in line again to say, “Food bad.”  The third time around, she stood before the Mother Superior to say, “I quit.”

“I’m not surprised,” said the Mother Superior.  “You’ve been complaining since you got here.”

I wonder, at the end of a normal day when my voice is unrestricted and I can chatter on at will, what is it that I’ve been talking about?

Complaining and whining?

Criticizing others?


Correcting my kids?

Waxing eloquent about myself?

Praising God and sharing from His Word?

Encouraging others?

What about you?  How do you put your voice to use each day?

Out of necessity last week, the only way I could really use my voice was talking about God.  The moment that Vacation Bible School ended and I climbed into the minivan with my kids, I returned to a life of silent listening and, if necessary, whispered prompts to get others talking.

Words have power and impact.  They can build others up, fill their spirit with strength and courage, and point them to Christ.  But words can also rip people apart, tearing their spirits down to tiny shreds of defeated nothingness.  Indeed, “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:21 ESV).

With such weaponry in our arsenal, with such power housed in a simple voicebox, you would think we’d be more cautious about what we say.  Like the nun who could only speak two words a year or like me who had 30 minutes to talk in a 24-hour day, we could prioritize and speak only what is necessary, true, and God-honoring.

But I’m not always so careful.  I sometimes forget that my voice is a precious gift and that my words have impact.  It’s too easy just to babble off whatever pops into my head sans filter.

The real issue here isn’t just speaking without thinking.  It’s that ultimately, “out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45b ESV).

Essentially, at the end of the day if we’ve used most of our words to gossip—then we’re a gossip.

And if we’ve spent most of our day complaining—then we’re a complainer.

If our conversation has mostly been about criticizing other people—then we’re negative.

If we’ve monopolized conversations with our own opinions and thoughts—then we’re selfish and self-focused.

The words we toss about with little thought and no constraint are peeling back the covers of our heart and showing what’s really in there.  And sometimes it’s ugly.

That means we don’t just need to filter our words; we need God to do some heart changing, too.

This isn’t advocacy for fake living, pasting cardboard smiles onto our faces and pretending everything is fine when it’s not.

Even with God, we can speak with honesty.  Job, steeped in tragedy, said, “Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 7:11).  David, Asaph and other Psalmists clearly felt freedom to express hurt and anger to God.

Yet, we can survey the overall tone and content of our daily speech and discover the tone and content of our heart.  Then, we can let God change us from the inside out.

If you could only talk for 30 minutes today, what would you use that time to say?

You can read more devotionals on this topic here:

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King