rebelling against low expectations

Complaining and the Hard Thing of Being Content

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We live in America. We’re surrounded by technology. We have nice homes, and nice furniture, and nice cars, and more Bibles than we can shake a stick at. We have family. We have pets and decorations and books. We’re healthy.

And we complain.

If we look at it that way, it sounds absolutely crazy! But it’s absolutely true.

We complain about not living someplace better. We complain about slow internet speeds and slow computers. We call the virtual assistant on our smartphone names when it doesn’t respond correctly. We complain about not having a better house or better property. We complain about all the flaws our family has. We complain about the aches and pains we get every once in a while. And the list of our complaints goes on…

Do you see the irony here? Maybe you haven’t stopped to think about it before. I didn’t until recently. The truth is, we aren’t content.

Without realizing it, we complain that God doesn’t give us better things. We might even be breaking the first, second, and tenth commandment. The first verse that comes to mind when I think about complaining is one about the Israelites.

Numbers 21:5-6 informs us, “And the people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘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.’ Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.”

1 Corinthians 10:11 also says, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”

Complaining is a sin, and yet we don’t really treat it as such. Everybody does it, so it doesn’t seem like a big deal.

And that’s just where the problem lies.

We look at others and as long as we are equal to or better than them we think we’re okay. But God doesn’t judge us by other people. He judges us by his perfect and holy law, and that is what we need to look at to see how God wants us to honor him.

The Problem

So why exactly do we complain even though we have so much? I think the main reason is because of pride.

We think we deserve better. We think we should not have to live without the things we want. We say, “Why does this always happen to me?” We subconsciously think we know better than God. We feel the need to criticize others because we think it will make us look better. All of that leads back to pride. Do you see how easily pride can sneak into our lives?

If God was angry enough with the Israelites to kill them for complaining, I think he still must abhor our complaining.

James 3:10 states, “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

Murmuring, grumbling, or mentally whining are all ways we complain. It’s dangerous, and it’s wrong. If we complain, we will no longer see the good things in other people. Or in anything else for that matter.

The Remedy

So how do we combat complaining?

Romans 12:21 reminds us, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

I love that verse! To break bad habits, we set goals to create good habits. So what’s the habit that can overthrow complaining?

Being content and thankful.

Philippians 4:11 states, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”

If we are content, we cannot complain. If we are thankful, we cannot complain. Do you see how the good habits don’t dwell with the bad ones?

Pause, Pray, and Worship

I state the obvious, because the obvious can become so obvious it’s not obvious anymore! Ask God to show you the good in the bad.

Take a little time to worship your King, the perfectly holy One who made you and saved you! When we stop to worship him, we are reminded of his goodness towards us. Thank him for the many blessings he has given you. Thankfulness leads to being content.

Besides, it’s hard to see the bad when you’re staring good straight in the face! If we would just stop for a moment and take the time to do be thankful, our complaints would grade away.

Do Something For Someone else

Find a way to serve someone when things aren’t going right. It will probably be the last thing you want to do at the moment, but then again, we’re striving to do hard things, aren’t we?

When the person you’ve served notices what you did for them, they will probably be thankful, surprised, and a smile will show up on their face. Smiles are contagious.

In closing, I want to look to 2 Corinthians 12:10, which says, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

If Paul could be content, even in light of his crazy life, our complaints start to fade into the distance.

I challenge you to join me in doing the hard thing of being content!


About the author

Clayton Hill

is 15 and lives in a small town in Missouri, with his mom, older sister, and younger brother. Clayton's hobbies are raising pigs, mowing lawns as a side job, playing the violin, and reading. He aspires to be a farmer one day. His family attends a small local church. You can find more of his writing at skippingadolescence.wordpress.com.

rebelling against low expectations

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