“You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love, and Your care has preserved my spirit.”
It’s amazing how my head can know one thing, yet my heart can feel totally different. It’s almost a case of spiritual insanity as I shift back and forth from what I believe to be true to what I feel to be true. Spending a little time with David, Job, or the Apostle Paul convinces me that I am not alone.
Job Complains to God
Job freely spoke his mind to God in Job 10, holding nothing back from indicting God as the cause of his pain. Job speaks from the bitterness of his soul (v. 1) saying things like: “Let me know why You contend against me” (v. 2) or “You have destroyed me all together” (v. 8). To top it off, in a sort of sarcastic and accusatory tone, Job asks God, “What good is this doing for You!?” (v. 3). In today’s passage, tucked right in the middle of Job’s complaining, we see him acknowledge who God is as his creator, that God is loving, and that He is also the sustainer of life…and yet…
Job spews on in verse 13 saying, “Yet these things You hid in Your heart…” (emphasis mine).
It’s as if Job is shaking his fist at God saying, “I know You are all-powerful and all-loving and all-good… YET, it sure doesn’t feel like it.” Job’s head gets it, but his heart is not buying it.
Shaking Your Fist at God
Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever shaken your fist at God, figuratively or literally, and ached to understand why? If so, you’re not the only one; an intentional skim of the Old Testament will show you that you’re in good company.
In the ancient Hebrew language of the Old Testament, the word for complaining, grumbling, and protesting is “lamenting.” It means to give a passionate expression of sorrow or grief, specifically to God. The key to complaining correctly is realizing that getting things off your chest is not enough. Instead, we need to ask God to change our perspectives, leaving the results of our complaints up to Him.
Permission to Lament
Although God reprimanded and humbled Job, he nevertheless found favor with God. Job’s relentless complaints were fueled by faith that God was present and listening to him. In all his complaining, Job did not reject God, but he continued pursuing what he believed to be true about Him. In seasons of depression, our pursuits of God may look like continually laying our laments before Him, holding onto hope that He will respond. Such perseverance is, in itself, an act of faith.
Lamenting is not a passive, fingers-crossed hope, it’s fingernails-digging-in desperation to see God change our realities. That’s where complaining gives us a conduit to tell God what we’re feeling while still trusting His goodness.
We can utter our laments to God because we know that He is sovereign and capable to bring about change in any circumstance. We go to God because in His sovereignty, He is able to rescue us.
Where are you complaining to others more than you are complaining to God? Do you believe He will hear you and can change you?
Looking to change your tendency to complain and start getting a new perspective on your situation? Join The Complaint Project! A simple 21 Day Challenge to start living a life without complaints created by my friend, Mike Ruman! www.complaintproject.com