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?
I absolutely love today’s devotional. I had struggled with this for a long time before God told me something. Much like getting upset with God, we tend to not complain about what may be happening in our lives to God. Instead we often run to the nearest fallible human and complain to them. There is nothing wrong in complaining to a friend, but our priority is wrong. We should be taking it to God first. God is omnipresent, omniscience, and omnipotent, and He already knows everything, but does it not mean more when we verbally go to Him? I mean think about this, God did not think the world into existence, He “spoke” it into existence. It means more to us as parents if our children come to us when they are upset or mad, correct? Why do we not feel the same toward God? I believe this is because we are led to believe that we cannot get upset, angry, or to complain to God and this is the way I used to believe until something happened. God showed me that there are two ways to handle a negative situation.
There are two ways to handle an argument with your spouse. I correct way and a wrong way that often leads to bitterness and makes the situation worse. If I was to get into an argument with my wife, we often yelled, screamed, and walked away feeling like nothing was accomplished. Then the Lord showed me how much better it was to sit and talk it out with my wife. Sure, we would take a few to let emotions calm down, but afterwards we sit and talked it out, even if it involved yelling and screaming. There is no denying that the situation was uncomfortable, but in the end the outcome was so much better. There was no bitterness or anger left over. What God had shown me was that it is ok to complain or get upset with God, but instead of throwing your hands up and walking away from Him, STAY, and allow Him to comfort and fix whatever it is that has us all tore up. If we stay and talk it out with God, there is no doubt you will get up stronger and better than when you got down.
I challenge you this: the next time you get upset or need to complain, take it to God first. Be verbal and let Him know how you feel and what is going on, because remember, His is God and already knows what is in your heart. Do not get angry and walk away, rather sit and let God fix it no matter how petty you think it is. Every single person is special to God and nothing is petty to Him.
In context, Ephesians 4:26–27 (ESV) says, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” And yes this is dealing with one another, but don not let any anger or malice stay in your heart when God is right there waiting to speak to you!
 John D. Barry and Rebecca Kruyswijk, Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012).
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.