Have you ever been to Grumble Town? You probably have but didn’t realize that was the name of it. Such is a place in our imagination according to a story told by Dr. William J. Bennett in his book, The Moral Compass (New York: Simon & Shuster, 1995):
There once was a place called Grumble Town where everybody grumbled, grumbled, grumbled. In summer, the people grumbled that it was too hot. In winter, it was too cold. When it rained, the children whimpered because they couldn’t go outside. When the sun came out, they complained that they had nothing to do. Neighbors griped and groaned about neighbors, parents about children, brothers about sisters. Everybody had a problem, and everyone whined that someone should come do something about it.
One day a peddler trudged into town, carrying a big basket on his back. When he heard all the fussing and sighing and moaning, he put his basket down and cried: “O citizens of this town! Your fields are ripe with grain, your orchards heavy with fruit. Your mountains are covered by good, thick forests, and your valleys watered by deep, wide rivers. Never have I seen a place blessed by such opportunity and abundance. Why are you so dissatisfied? Gather around me, and I will show you the way to contentment.
Now this peddler’s shirt was tattered and torn. His pants showed patches, his shoes had holes. The people laughed to think that someone like him could show them how to be content. But while they snickered, he pulled a long rope from his basket and strung it between two poles in the town square. Then, holding his basket before him, he cried,
“People of Grumble Town! Whoever is dissatisfied, write your troubles on a piece of paper, and bring it and put it in this basket. I will exchange your problem for happiness!”
The crowd swarmed around him. No one hesitated at the chance to get rid of his trouble. Every man, woman, and child in the village scribbled a grumble onto a scrap of paper and dropped it into the basket.
They watched as the peddler took each trouble and hung it on the line. By the time he was through, troubles fluttered on every inch of rope, from end to end. Then he said: “Now each one of you should take from this magic line the smallest trouble you can find.”
They all rushed forward to examine all the troubles. They hunted and fingered and pondered, each trying to pick the very smallest trouble. After a while the magic line was empty.
And behold! Each held in his hand the very same trouble he had put into the basket. Each had chosen his own trouble, thinking it was the smallest of all on the line.
From that day, the people of Grumble Town stopped grumbling all the time. And whenever anyone had the urge to whimper or whine, he thought of the peddler and his magic line.
Yes, Grumble Town sure was filled with a lot of unhappy people UNTIL the peddler came to town. How the peddler must have been saddened to see all the citizens so discontent in the midst of those many blessings!
In spite of the fact that he didn’t own much or have nice things himself, the peddler STILL had joy in his heart. Thanks to the peddler, the sharing of his joy is what turned the people’s grumbling into happiness. Once they got rid of their troubles on the magic line, they were joyful, too.
This story is analogous to what happens when we follow the instruction of OUR Peddler, Jesus Christ. When Jesus enters our lives, our eyes will then be able to see and appreciate the many blessings all around us. Unlike the citizens of Grumble Town who couldn’t see just how blest they were, we have plenty of good things to be thankful for which far outnumber the troubles we often think we have.
When we totally trust and obey him, he turns our frowns upside down with joy and appreciation for all the good things he wants us to have—things like, peace of mind in stressful times, strength to endure hardships, order when there’s disorder, confidence to believe in God’s truth, assurance through faith that frees us from fear, resistance when temptations come our way, spiritual growth to make right decisions, and genuine hope for a better day when Jesus comes.
The Good News is that through Christ, you don’t have to reside in Grumble Town. But if you DO have the urge to whimper and whine like the citizens there, just think of what happened after the peddler came through. For, as the peddler came with joy in his heart, having the joy of Jesus brings complete joy to us, too (John 15:11)!
Without a doubt, it’s Jesus who turns our trouble into happiness. Indeed, he’s the true Source for true contentment. And that definitely leaves us nothing to grumble about but, instead, a whole lot to rejoice in!
Like the citizens learned, compared to everyone else’s troubles, ours may not seem to be so big after all. In fact, through Christ, we have the hope of a better, brighter future beyond those things we moan and groan about in this present life (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
Moreover, like the peddler who came to Grumble Town, Jesus came gently and humbly and “…for your sake he became poor,” (2 Corinthians 8:9). He didn’t even have a place to lay his head (Matthew 8:19–20; Luke 9:57–58). And while OUR Peddler doesn’t have a magic line, we can still hang our troubles on him and watch what will happen next. For Jesus said,
“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my load is light,” (Matthew 11:28-30, New American Standard Bible, NASB).
Good News to YOU!
P.S. There’s no need for living in Grumble Town when you “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”
featuring Loyiso Bala, Neville D and Ivan Siegelaar: https://youtu.be/6KmE5p2n85s