We complain about the weather. We complain about traffic. We complain about the government We complain about our employer. We complain about our health. We complain about our doctor. We complain about our parents. We complain about our kids. We complain about the roads. We complain about our taxes. Sometimes, we complain about people who complain too much!
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a complaint as; “1. expression of grief, pain, or dissatisfaction. 2. a) something that is the cause or subject of protest or outcry. b) a bodily ailment or disease. 3. a formal allegation against a party.” Let’s take a few moments to consider the first (and most common) use of the word. We have a great loss, so in our grief we complain. We hurt, so we complain. We are dissatisfied and unhappy with life, so we complain.
Complaining does give us momentary relief as we feel the catharsis of released emotions. The problem is that the feeling quickly fades so we complain all the more. We know that in reality, complaining does very little if anything to change our actual circumstances, and the changes it brings about in our soul are usually negative! Often complaining leaves us in a worse state than we were to begin with.
The Bible demonstrates a better way to handle our sorrow and frustrations. It is called a lament. There is a whole book in the Bible called Lamentations (written by Jeremiah – the “weeping” prophet). Also, a great number of the Psalms are laments. They differ from simple complaints and often follow the same pattern.
Mark Vroegop in his excellent book Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy states that laments contain four key elements: “(1) an address to God, (2) a complaint, (3) a request, and (4) and expression of trust and/or praise.” He summarizes those as, “turn, complain, ask, and trust.”
When we go to our heavenly Father we go to the one who controls and can change either our circumstances or our hearts. He also is one who truly understands our hurt as in the person of His son, Jesus, He has suffered as a human. He invites us to share our pain as we state our complaint, and He has instructed us to ask Him for the needs of our life. A lament is not complete until we also express the fact that we trust Him with our very lives. We put our trust in the Lord to save us from our sin, and then we trust Him to do what is best in each situation of life.
Take time to read a lament from the Bible (I would suggest Psalm 13) and learn the value of lament!