Complaining. We’ve all been there.
Whether in words or deeds, our hearts have echoed the solemn excuse of mankind inherited from Adam: “It wasn’t my fault!” (See Genesis 3:12.)
Whenever we’re faced with a difficult task, we’re naturally inclined to complain. When chores become difficult, complain. When school assignments feel like it’s the end of the world, complain. Woke up late, complain. Get hungry, complain. It’s Monday, complain. Get a headache, complain. It’s cold, complain.
I can keep writing a list so long that I start complaining about my fingers getting tired. After all, complaining feels so natural.
In my early teens, I was on a very dedicated soccer team. We had practice almost every day and played in a league or tournament game every weekend. One time my mom bought me new soccer boots, and on their debut match, I missed a penalty.
Everyone was on me, and I became a laughing stock for weeks. In the midst of that embarrassment, I somehow found a way of complaining in my heart that blamed my mom. I convinced myself I didn’t have enough support from home. I really thought I was in the right, thinking that there wasn’t any reason for me to miss the penalty — except if someone else did something wrong.
The Reason We Complain
I’m sure Adam was convinced that God would pardon him if he complained about his wife’s shortcomings. God asked a simple straightforward question, “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11).
Instead of answering with a simple “yes” or “no,” Adam tried to excuse himself by starting the answer with, “The woman whom you gave to be with me…” (v12).
And how can we forget Israel’s classic complaint against Moses and against God: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food” (Numbers 21:5).
Complaining can be loud and obvious, but it can also be quiet and subtle.
It can be portrayed by a murmur of discontentment to our closest friends or a debate within our own hearts. Whatever the mode is, the real reason we complain is because we don’t get what we think we deserve.
We think we deserve comfort and status, not suffering and persecution. We want everything easy and doable, not hard and intimidating. We complain because we desire other things instead of God himself.
Why We Should Stop Complaining
Jesus’s life on earth was that of a suffering servant, yet he never complained, even to the point of death on the cross (Philippians 2:5-8). The apostle Paul was one of the most suffering Christians in the New Testament (see 2 Corinthians 11:23-33). Yet despite his intense suffering, he learned not to complain (Philippians 4:11-12), and tells us to do the same (1 Corinthians 10:10).
As Christians we’re urged not to speak unless our words are edifying to one another (Ephesians 4:29). Complaining doesn’t edify anyone. On the contrary, it’s a source of discouragement. It doesn’t convict the world of sin, nor does it point to their desperate need of Jesus.
What it does is convince others about your heart’s whispering: “God is not enough for me.”
We should resist the edge to complain because it can ruin our rejoicing in God. How can you emphatically enjoy God, through Jesus Christ, if your mind is always preoccupied with a list of complaints? Complaining about what’s happening around you is a complaint against God’s sovereign rule.
How To Practically Fight Complaining
The way to resist complaining is by being thankful. We should fight complaining with thanksgiving. Be thankful, always.
Was your day at work hard? Thank God for the opportunity he’s given you to labor that you may have something to give to those in need. Are the school assignments and tests tedious? Thank God for giving you a brain that is able to think and solve problems.
We need to learn to be thankful in spite of the unpleasantness of things around us.
Are you tired and weary? Are you in discomfort and pain? Take heed of Paul’s words: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). The first thing to do in the midst of suffering is pray (James 5:13). God is our deeply caring Father. He is the only one fully capable of providing us with peace, joy and endurance throughout our suffering.
So do everything without complaining.
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