Monday, April 23, 2018

God Wants You to Complain. No, Really.

When I was in seminary, I took several counseling courses. In one particular course we watched a video of a counselor and his patient in order to learn from the counselor's technique. In this video, a woman was being counseled and she described her life at home with her husband. One of the things that she complained about was that she didn't really feel like she could complain to her husband, that when she brought actual complaints or criticisms or just shared negative feelings that she had experienced that he couldn't handle it. Since then, I have encountered numerous people who share a similar sentiment about their spouse, partner, friends or co-workers. These people have significant complaints but never say anything because they either feel that the person cannot handle the complaints or that it simply isn't appropriate to make a complaint to that particular person, regardless of how justified it may be.

Sadly, I see many people carry over this same attitude toward God. People have issues with how God has provided for them or guided their circumstances. They feel that God hasn't been fair toward them or that God has simply ignored them and left them on their own. Yet these same people either feel that they will be struck down with a bolt of lightning if they complain to God or that it is somehow inappropriate to take their complaints to God, that it demonstrates a lack of faith or respect.

For those people, I want you to see what Psalm 44:23-26 says.

Wake up, Lord! Why are You sleeping?
Get up! Don't reject us forever!
Why do You hide Yourself and forget our affliction
and oppression?
For we have sunk down to the dust;
Our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up! Help us!
Redeem us because of Your faithful love. (HCSB)

Scripture is filled with examples of people who complained to God. A large number of the Psalms are nothing more than people complaining to God and begging God to listen to them. Now, don't get me wrong, it is very possible to complain to God in a manner that is disrespectful and sinful. But God is not only capable of taking the honest cry of a desperate heart, God wants to hear that cry. There are times, God allows our circumstances to deteriorate simply because we need our focus to return to Him, because it is good for us to turn to God in prayer, even if it is a prayer of hurt and confusion.

God doesn't want empty prayers where we give God only what we think God can take. God is big enough to hear and handle our complaints. God is patient enough to know that sometimes we feel betrayed or hurt or lost or abandoned even in the midst of his promises to never leave us. God is big enough to handle our complaints and our desperation. Are we big enough to give them to God?

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