The Right Complaint

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The complaint lies like a scratchy, woolen, too-heavy-for-comfort blanket over the landscape.

This New England, a place known for its blizzards and hurricanes, scrapes skin and emotions raw when the cold bites hard and long. Another round of snow, another slippery drive, another delivery of oil smacks hard against the weather weary.

Complaint becomes the language spoken here.

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There are two kinds of complaint that can spring forth from a man.

The first, and perhaps the most prevalent, grows in the soil of discontent.
It is the kind that believes a long line at the grocery store is an affront to our convenience and paying our dues at work or school, or life, is an injustice.
It is the kind that takes the weather personally.

The complainer’s theme song is entitled:

Why Me?
Why am I so cold? Why am I so hot?
Why do I have to park in the furthest parking lot?
Why are lines too long…they are such a pain.
Why do my white walls still instragram the stains?

Why me? Why me?
What did I do to deserve this sort of thing?
Afterall, I’m following Jesus, who is my heavenly king.
Why me? Why me?
I worked so hard all week, I have so many kids.
You’re asking me to serve?
Looks like I already did.

Why is she so skinny? Why is he so lean?
Why can’t I have at least one pair of pricey jeans?
Why can’t I have the upgrade? Is it five or number six?
Who will pay my tab if I get in a fix?

Why me? Why me?
What did I do to deserve this sort of thing?
Afterall, I’m following Jesus, who is my heavenly king.
Why me? Why me?
I want my kids in Gap, I need the latest phone.
You’re asking me to give?
I’m sorry, I gave at home.

It’s the Dawning of the Age of Entitlement, Age of Entitlement..

In the age of entitlement there are no sick kids, or broken down cars, or never-ending cold snaps, or serving in obscurity in the toddler room or the cleaning ministry. It’s the farmhouse sink, the cool blog, the prominent position. Like, Like, Like.

Yet, entitlement is just another filter to mask discontent.

Dislike.

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The second kind of complaint is actually a lament that germinates in the soil of belief.

It is a sort of holy complaint.
The complaint isn’t just about something, but a complaint to Someone.

Whereas ungratefulness and discontent are attached to the entitled complainer, it is Hope that is attached to the holy complainer. Hope cloaks this kind of complaint with the belief that God is not only listening, but He will act on our behalf because He is just that good.

What good father would refuse comfort to his child that screams, “Daddy, how long is this going to hurt? Make it go away!”

The hopeful lamenter believes that God is the author and finisher of his life. He believes that underneath the pain, the inconvenience and the obscurity lies an opportunity to see His majesty.

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March winds howl hard through the trees of our winter of discontent.
It happens every year, this last blast of north winds. It is the expected way of things in this part of the world, yet still we complain.

So what do we do when we are scraped to the bone, peeling and feeling abandoned in a white-on-white, winter weary season of hard things?

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We stand, we lie down, we moan with the psalmist:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

How long will my soul be in winter, O God? When will you come with your Spring?

The psalmist’s complaint to God is an admission of belief.

It is the posture of turning toward God, not away from Him, just like the child crying out in pain or confusion moves toward his father because really he believes his father will do something good.

An entitled complainer throws his hands up in despair muttering, “Seriously?”
The psalmist complainer throws his hands up in surrender saying,

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
    light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
    lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

Asking God to consider and answer implies belief that He will do so.

This kind of holy complainer stands against the March winds with hunched shoulders and frozen tears and says,

O’ Spring, though snow’s crust lay hard over thy field,
It’s simply God’s timing when winter must yield,
To the strength of your bud and your widening of  green
To the fragrance of lilies that wash over me. 

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This Lenten season I am seeing how Jesus embraced the winter of His soul as He walked toward the cross.

He, too, was a holy lamenter that day: “Father, my Father, why have You forsaken Me?”

Yet, for the joy set before Him, He endured the harshness of the wood and nails, the cruel winds of an enemy’s lies. He, the only One truly entitled, laid down His entitlement because He knew His spilled blood was about to bring forth an eternal Spring for you and for me.

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3 thoughts on “The Right Complaint

  1. This is so helpful and true Mitsie…This winter of my discontent is taking it’s toll on my body and mind and I am writing my own psalms of hope to my God.. who has new mercies every one of my mornings. Thank you. Love , Mom

    _____

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