“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints (Psalm 52:8,9).”
When I was working in a university in Finland, I would go to the office early. Invariably I would find my Finnish colleague Jukka there at the same hour, sitting at his desk with his office door open.
Jukka had a good sense of humor and was easy to talk to. Generally, our conversations had to do with our workplace. We thought that after a while we should form our own “complaints choir”.
I read about this concept once on an Internet news site. The complaints choir idea was started by a couple Finnish guys who decided it was best to take all the energy used complaining and turn it into something useful and entertaining. There are now numerous complaints choirs around the world.
The organization that sponsors these choirs even has a do-it-yourself page. One of the instructions I find particularly useful is the following:
“Group all the complaints that were submitted into apropriate categories, for example: complaints about the city, about neighbours, about technology, about life in general, about things that can’t be changed etc. and print them on separate papers.”
I believe two groupings might be helpful: valid and invalid complaints. Most of us think that complaining is distasteful, but there are times when it is appropriate.
Jacobs sons, for example, had a valid complaint in my view. They killed all the men of a town when the son of the ruler raped their sister. Jacob rebuked them for it because the killings made their little family odious to the more numerous surrounding peoples. He was afraid they would be attacked. His sons replied with a complaint in rhetorical question form:””Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?”
Job also had a justifiable complaint. He was in suffering physically and emotionally.Yet, when he sought out God He couldn’t find Him. He felt alone in his misery (Job 23:1-9).
His friends were no help. In fact, they complained to Job that he was running his mouth in vain. They told Job that his own wickedness had brought the suffering down on his head (Job 22:5,10-11). The distress was his own fault, punishment from God.
Later, God had some things to say to Job’s buddies about their complaining against Job. In fact, God complained against them about their complaints. He was angry about them (Job 42:7). There were no grounds for the complaints of Job’s friends in God’s eyes. They were invalid.
When I was a new believer in Christ, one of my friends told me. “You’ve really changed. When we were in high school you used to complain all the time. I couldn’t stand to be around you.” When I came to Christ, this character flaw disappeared, at least for a time!
I complained because in my “BC” (Before Christ) days, I did not trust God. It was as if my tongue was a razor blade (Psalm 52:2). I suppose I thought I was being funny, but I don’t think God or others were laughing.
One of the warning signals that tells me today that I am not trusting God is when I catch myself complaining. It is a tell-tale sign of unbelief on my part.
As I see it, when I am faced with issues that cause me distress, I have two choices, the same ones Job had. One of them is that when I am suffering, I can dread the next minute, hour or day. I can believe that God is in the business of terrifying me, and that He is just waiting to drop the next bomb on my head (Job 23:14-16).
The other choice I have is that I can believe that suffering is a sign of God’s love for me, that He knows what He is doing on my behalf. In fact, I can even believe that I will come out smelling like a rose in the end. Job uttered such thoughts in his time of trouble. He said,” But he knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold (Job 23:10).”
The standard dictionary defines complaining as “an expression of grief, pain or dissatisfaction.” In dreadful periods, it might be more useful for us believers to shout something else in order to acknowledge God’s loving care.
I think I have found something. It’s “booyah”. This term is new to me, as I have been overseas and missed out on some of the idiomatic language. The urban dictionary and Wikipedia say that it can be an exlamation of satisfaction, even joy and victory.
Sorry for complaining God. It must have been tough to be around. “Booyah!”.