August 22: Complaints
Complaining can be automatic. We complain about the weather, our children, our jobs. And we might do it for any number of reasons—even something as trivial as to keep a conversation going. Although we might complain lightly, we still betray something about our hearts. We assume that we are owed something—that we are entitled.
We might readily admit this. We might freely say that this should not be our posture before people or before God. But Job challenges our stereotype of the complainer. What can we learn from his complaints? In his outcries, we find someone struggling to understand his situation before God. He prays, “My inner self loathes my life; I want to give vent to my complaint; I want to speak out of the bitterness of my inner self. I will say to God, ‘You should not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me’ ” (Job 10:1–2). He repeats and recasts his elevated and prolonged complaints in surprising similes: “Did you not pour me out like milk and curdle me like cheese?” (Job 10:10).
Although his boldness and forcefulness might be shocking to us, we also understand how someone dealing with pain and grief might wrestle with these thoughts.
The book of Job ends with God silencing Job and his friends. Job’s demeanor changes when God sets everyone’s perspective right. But how should we understand these passages? Should we complain like Job when we feel frustrated by the disappointments in life?
Job’s complaints stemmed from a sense of loss—a realization that something was not right with the current state of affairs. This doesn’t mean that all complaints are motivated by complete ingratitude. Sin, loss, injustice, hurt, and evil in the world are not reasons to dismiss our cares. Indeed, God is concerned about our cares, and He wants to know them.
But the things we wrestle with should first be brought to God. We should bring our complaints to Him, ready to have our hearts and minds examined by His Word. Not only is He very concerned about our circumstances, but He also knows our hearts and can judge our complaints rightly. He can comfort us in sorrow and provide us with all that we need. Jesus died to set right the things that are wrong with the world, so we can be completely assured of His love and care for us.
How are you responding to events in your life? How can you bring your complaints to Him?