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

Cultivating a Quiet Heart

“I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content”
Psalm 131:1-2 (MSG)

I work from home at my computer so that I can take care of my three young daughters.  Mostly, my work days go something like this:

  • Get everyone settled and sit down at the computer to work.
  • Help child put clothes on her doll.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Get a drink for another child.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Spell “Pocahontas” for older daughter who is systematically drawing every princess she’s ever heard of.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Change baby’s diaper.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Break up fight between older girls who each want to be the same princess.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Get snack for children who declare that they are indeed starving and will die if they don’t eat something now instead of waiting for dinner.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Get lemonade for the children who forgot that they were also thirsty and not just hungry when they asked for a snack.
  • Sit down to work.
  • Look for a particular book for a child who swears she’s looked everywhere, including the bookshelf, and it has just simply disappeared into thin air.  Find the book on the bookshelf.
  • Sit down to work.

You get the idea.

Yesterday, I was working away and getting up every 20 seconds (perhaps an exaggeration, but it FELT like every 20 seconds), when my oldest daughter stood at my feet, appearing like a child in need.  So, I looked at her and sighed and waited for the request.  One more thing someone needed from me.  One more expectation to fill.  One more bit of help to give.

And she gave me a hug, placed a kiss on my cheek, said, “I love you, Mom” and walked away.

My baby does this all day long.  She plays and asks me for things and then at least two or three times an hour, she walks over to me and just lays her head down on my arm and waits for me to stroke her head and kiss her.  Then, she runs off again to dump out all the blocks and pull every book off the bookshelf as she plays.

I love my children and I love that I can be at home to help them when they need it and to give and receive kisses and hugs when all they ask for is affection.   Some days, it’s draining because it’s a job that involves giving, giving, and giving some more.   I know they’re kids who just need help and that’s okay.  I would much prefer they ask me for help than find my house torn apart from their efforts to do things on their own.  Still, sometimes I think a few minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time sitting in one place sounds luxurious.

That hug and kiss from my daughter yesterday reminded me of my relationship with God.   So many days, I go to Him in need.  I ask Him for help, encouragement, intervention, provision, healing.  All day long, I pray for myself, my family and for others.  Thankfully, God is a far more patient parent than I am.  He never sighs with fatigue and frustration when I show up before His throne again with another request.

Yet, how precious are the moments when I come into God’s presence not asking for Him to help me with anything, but just pleased to have His company.

Psalm 131:1-2 says:  “I’ve kept my feet on the ground, I’ve cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content” (MSG).  In the NIV, this description is of a “weaned child with its mother.”

The image here is of a baby content to be with her mother, not because she’s looking for food or the fulfillment of a need, but just because the mother’s very presence brings comfort.

It’s part of the maturing process in this Christian walk.  God weans us so that we don’t just look to Him for help, but we respond “to Him out of love . . . for God does not want us neurotically dependent on Him but willingly trustful in Him” (Eugene Peterson).  It’s not that God no longer cares for us or sees our need.  Instead, He’s asking us to trust His love for us so much that we can lay our burdens at His feet and leave them there, choosing to focus on God Himself rather than our troubling circumstances.  We see His love and not our empty bank account.  We look to His faithfulness and not our illness.  We focus on His might and not our broken relationships.

In his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson goes on to write, “Choose to be with him; elect his presence; aspire to his ways; respond to his love.”

This reminds me of Psalm 42:1-2 “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?” (NIV).  It’s a cry for communion and relationship rather than a desperate plea for help.  It’s a call to enjoy God’s presence, not for what He does for us, but for who He is.

“Father, I thank You that You are so patient with me, hearing each of my requests and responding to me with lovingkindness and compassion.  I’m sorry for not spending more time just enjoying Your presence instead of meeting with You in order to get something for myself.  I trust in You to care for me and all these needs that weigh on my heart and I put them aside in order to commune with You and give You praise.  I choose to cultivate a quiet and contented heart.”


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 © 2011 Heather King