POURING OUT COMPLAINTS…
A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD.
“Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you! Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!” ~Psalm 102:1-2
There are so many things I love about my Lord. One of them is how He is intimately acquainted with us as His children. As a mother who wants to please God in how I raise my children and because of my deep love for them, I try to study my children. I try to notice the little signals they give me that indicate they need to talk or get something off their chest, or just need some space to process a word of instruction or correction I just gave them. Sometimes, they give me a hint they could really use a little encouragement, and sometimes they just come right out and say, “Mom, can I have a hug?”
Like my children, I sometimes “hint” around to the Lord that I need to get something off my chest with Him or I just cry out, “Lord, I need a ‘hug’”. And God my Father (the perfect parent—unlike me, with my many imperfections as a mother), comes, and in a way that I know is very real puts His arms around me. Though I cannot see Him, He helps me to know that He indeed is just quietly, patiently listening to me as I pour out my heart to Him.
IS COMPLAINING ALWAYS WRONG?
The psalmist says in Psalm 142:2, “I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him.” I have always thought complaining was something that we shouldn’t do as Christians. After all, Philippians 2:14 says, “Do all things without grumbling or arguing…” The context however, for this kind of grumbling is in how we do what God asks of us and in how we relate to each other. The kind of complaining we do with one another is often the result or expression of not getting what we want or our pride that thinks we deserve better than how we’re being treated.
It is difficult to complain to one another in a way that brings glory to God. I’m not actually sure it can be done! We are sinners rubbing shoulders with other sinners, and our complaining to one another, if not directed at a person, can be so entwined with wrong motives or bad theology (like, “Please feel sorry for me!” or, “Don’t you think God made a mistake here?”) that it not only does NOT bring glory to God, but it can seriously tempt another believer to jump in the sin pit with us. I’ve seen this play out in our family countless times; I’m raising a guilty hand right now!
I have done this same kind of complaining as well with the Lord. I have many times complained to Him about my circumstances in a way that is motivated by the same reasons. I think I deserve better than what I’m getting and am essentially complaining that He is doing something wrong because my circumstances look or feel bad.
This kind of complaining is clearly sin, but we have a patient Father, one who loves to remind us of His lavish love, which He poured out on us when He sent Christ to ransom us from the power of sin and death by His own death on the cross for us. When I find myself questioning God, I ask Him to not only forgive me, but to also help me remember that He alone IS God and that all His ways are perfect.
When I’m tempted to put something or someone above Him, God is faithful to show me where I’ve strayed, as He recently revealed to me regarding the house I so wanted to purchase two months ago. In every way, this home would have been perfect for what I believe God is calling us to in this new season of life. The timing, however, wasn’t right for us, which means this house wasn’t the best thing for me.
Jeff Purswell, one of the pastors from Covenant Life, our sister church in Gaithersburg, MD, shared in his sermon Sunday at our church something one of his young children said, “God, please give me (some kind of toy); I promise I won’t worship it!” Well, I’ve done the same thing myself, “God, if You give me this (fill in the blank), I know I won’t worship it!” I think perhaps I liked this home (location, features, the barn, etc.) more than I should have, and the Lord in His wisdom and love for me said, “No”.
When Chris’s health was going downhill the last several years of his life he was tempted to forget God’s goodness many times. He also cried out to the Lord, “Father, give me my legs back (or hand, or strength, etc.), and I will glorify you for healing and restoring me!” God, in His perfect wisdom and plan told Chris no. Sometimes He would give him relief; sometimes He would reverse some of the symptoms for a short period of time. Eventually, in His sovereignty and lovingkindness though, He called Chris home.
Just over a week ago one of my dearest friends lost her son-in-law to a bomb explosion in Afghanistan where he was serving our country. He was getting ready to come home from the war and instead, God called him home to heaven. Her anguish for her daughter is acute; I have cried many times myself thinking about her situation and what it would be like if I lost my son-in-law who I love very much and what my own precious daughter would be experiencing.
IS THERE A GODLY WAY TO COMPLAIN?
When bad things like this happen, is there ever a way to “pour out our complaint” to the Lord that isn’t sinful and can bring glory to Him? I believe there is. I think the key is how we are thinking about God, how we view our circumstances, and where we are putting our trust.
God used Jeff Purswell’s sermon yesterday entitled, ‘Strength for the Weary’ (www.gracecommunity.ws/node/7444), to help me think more succinctly about this topic. After hearing Jeff’s definition, I realized I have been in a season of varying degrees of weariness for some time now (several years). It’s more than tiredness; tiredness is something you can remedy by sleep, rest, vacation, eating or sleeping better, exercise, etc. Weariness is the kind of tiredness that is often accompanied by discouragement or despondency, feeling alone in your situation, or that the very difficult one you’re in is never going to end.
Believers are certainly not immune to having periods of weariness. The psalms are filled with David’s prayers to God for help in times of emotional and physical distress, and Paul himself has a whole list of circumstances that make me weary just reading it! (Try looking up II Corinthians 11:24-28)
Isaiah, however, gives the weary an honest picture of their neediness and shares the wonderful truth that God gives strength to them that are weary if we wait for Him:
“ ‘To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.
Why do you complain, Jacob? Why do you say, Israel, My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” ~Isaiah 40:25-31
What did I learn from this passage in Isaiah about my weariness?
MY WEARINESS IS:
1. Real— I must not deny what is happening, what I’m feeling, how my weariness is affecting my heart or vice versa.
2. Common to man— Even believers experience weariness through a multitude of experiences. It is not indicative necessarily, that I have done something wrong; I get weary because I live in a fallen world; no man is exempt from this.
3. No surprise to God— My way is not hidden to the Lord. He named 10 billion trillion stars. He intimately knows what I am going through and He is fully sovereign! He is outside time and space, and is ceaselessly at work caring for His creation and caring for me.
4. A distinctive of my fallen humanity— God’s ways are inscrutable; His wisdom and power are eternal and limitless. I may not understand His ways; in fact, I can’t understand His ways. He is God and He is perfect. My interpretations of Him and what is happening in my life are flawed, especially when I am discouraged and weary.
5. Something God loves to respond to— He loves to strengthen the weak. He loves to give me everything I need. I will continue to grow weary and faint. At our strongest, we are weak! Yet, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever! He loves to be all I need as I wait for Him.
WEARINESS & POURING OUT OUR COMPLAINTS TO THE LORD
How can I glorify God in my complaining? By admitting my need and God’s sufficiency as I pour out my heart to Him. By acknowledging His sovereignty and goodness in the midst of admitting what I am experiencing and feeling (just look to David’s psalms as an example of what this looks like), I can complain to the Lord in a way that both fully confesses my need, sin, weakness, yet at the same time fully embraces His sovereign rule over my life and all of creation.
To those who are weary—if you are in a place where you know God is sovereign but seriously doubt His goodness, I would encourage you to just talk to your heavenly Father. Be honest in your feelings with Him (He knows them anyway). Tell Him exactly what you are struggling with and that you doubt Him (ie. His love and goodness, or wherever you find disbelief in your heart). Ask Him to help you believe Him. He honors this prayer of humility, and loves to show Himself strong on your behalf if you are in Christ.
Friend, if you are someone who has not come to a place of acknowledging God’s sovereign rule over your life, or have not or are unwilling to yield your life to Him who gave His Son Jesus to redeem you and exchange your sin for His righteousness, it is my prayer for you that God would set you free to know Him! My testimony only has power because of Christ in me. He has brought me out of darkness into His glorious light—how great is His love toward us!
PRAYER REQUESTS & PRAISES
Thank you, dear friends, for continuing to pray for us. I do have some very specific things I want to thank the Lord for, as well as some items I would be very grateful for your prayers for:
1. Megan: God has been sustaining my daughter Megan in amazing and very personal ways since her broken engagement. She has intently pressed into the Lord and His Word these past weeks and God has rewarded her by giving her a keen sense of His presence, love and intimate care for her. How God has heard my prayers for her! I know He will continue to guide her with His eye on her. Please continue to pray, friends, that she would hear His voice and boldly follow Him wherever He leads her. I will share more about her story in another post.
2. Our home: The house is now officially paid off! I hesitated to take this step, but found I needed to free up our expenses to make more monthly income available. It is also reassuring to know that the house is here and is ours, free and clear, regardless of what kind of income I may or may not have in the future.
3. 2011 Conferences: The Lord has kindly given me some opportunities to speak next year at a few state homeschool conventions. I have about nine new workshops and keynotes I am giving and am eager to share them. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to encourage believers in these venues through what God has shown us of His faithfulness these past 15+ years!
1. Ardie Klicka—My mother-in-law Ardie has been ill for a couple of months now and doctors have determined that one of her kidneys is basically non-functioning and must be removed this year. She is having a surgical procedure this Thursday/Friday (Nov. 11-12) to put a shunt in her kidney to drain fluid and help reduce infection until she can have the kidney surgery next month.
She is scheduled to come and see us on the 17th, but is anxious about her four-day window of recovery time from the procedure. Please join me in praying that God would grant her a successful procedure, peace in the Lord, and a clear sense of whether or not she should make the trip down here next week.
2. Robert Maupin—my only living grandparent, who is in his mid-nineties will soon be going home to be with the Lord. My parents have been supervising his care at a nearby nursing facility for over a year now. Please pray for my mom, who knows the Lord, who is soon to lose her daddy.
3. Chris’s books—All three of Chris’s books on homeschooling, Homeschooling: The Right Choice, The Heart of Homeschooling and Homeschool Heroes are officially out of print with Broadman & Holman publishers. They are in the process of reverting the rights over to me and I desire to reprint them. I will be working on revising and updating these books and hopefully putting new covers on them. I would like to self-publish them, but realize all of this is a BIG process!
I would be grateful for your prayers for God to lead me in this endeavor—Chris’s message is still relevant to the homeschool community and his legacy should continue!
4. My blog—I am close to launching my blog, www.tracyklicka.com, and am interviewing candidates to finish building the website so I can archive all the past CaringBridge entries and continue to write from this vehicle. This has been a very long process (over a year now!) and I would like to finish it!
Thank you for your prayers, dear friends…soli Deo gloria,