How To Complain to God
Habakkuk 1:1-11; 2:1-4
"An expression of grief, pain or resentment" is, according to Mr. Webster, the nature of a complaint. I guess we've all had or received them. Most likely
both. I broke down a week or so ago and traded my 1984 Chevrolet Protest(?) for a 1992 VW. What's a 1984 Protest? Well it was a Cavalier for the first four
‚years. After the last payment was made, (The same day the car broke down and cost me big bucks to fix) it became a Protest. Anyway, I gave up the Protest a
‚week or so ago. Nineteen hours later, I was sitting in front of our church letting my family out of the new VW. A man who attends our church decided that things weren't moving quickly enough and swerved out around us. It was timed perfectly. My oldest daughter opened the rear door on the driver's side to catch his front bumper at the precise moment that he passed by. He quickly transformed my back door into another front door and a $1300.00 black mark with my insurance company.
Well praise Jesus!
Sorry. I never felt for one instant like saying that. Now I have had all kinds of encouragement since that time. It has been good stuff. I have found a multitude of brothers and sisters who have had the gift of telling me what I already know to be true. Yes, my daughter could have been hurt. Yes, it can be repaired. Yes it could have been worse. Yes .... it's only a car.
It must have been God's will?? Maybe. Anyway, I must confess, I did feel just a little bit like weeping uncontrollably or at least pouting for a few minutes. I am now relatively recovered and even as I write, my door remains to be repaired. There's something sad about having to open two doors to get in the driver's seat. But, in all seriousness, life goes on and my heartaches are not nearly what some people face. Countless numbers of people have reason to complain so much more than I. Habakkuk's complaint provides us with an opportunity to talk about the things that get under our skin and how to deal with them. Especially so as they relate to God and the "why's" and "how long's" of life. How do we complain to God?
1. Allow yourself the opportunity to be totally honest with God.
To do anything else makes no sense. He knows us better than we know ourselves and understands what is truly in our hearts. We may say we are upset when God knows we are bitter in our hearts. The attitudes in life that we might wish to soft pedal, God recognizes for what they are. Jealousy is jealousy no matter how you wish to word it and we can never see resolutions to the things in life that bother us until we are willing to admit to ourselves what the problem is.
I read one of Murphy's Laws the other day it said, "The best way to rid the world of toxic waste is to re-classify it as non-toxic." Let's not take this approach to our own problems.
2. Refuse to deny normal and natural human emotions that you may be facing.
As a youth minister, I had a difficult time coming to grips with the fact that at times some of my teens made me angry. After all, I was a minister and a Christian and shouldn't be experiencing that emotion. No matter what I wanted to call it, it was anger. Much frustration was dispelled from my life when I came to the point that I realized that any normal human being would have been mad as well in a similar situation.
In the book "Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Really Am?", author Dr. John Powell has this to say about rules for gut-level communication, "If I am to tell you who I really am, I must tell you about my feelings, .... I must, if I am to open myself to you, allow you to experience encounter) my person and tell you about my anger ...... It has been truly said that we either speak out (report) our feelings or we will act them out. It would probably do us a whole lot of good if we could just come to the place that we would confess to the fact that salvation is not a de-sensitizing experience that blocks the possibility of experiencing the spectrum of human emotion. And experiencing those emotions does not cast a reflection on the state of our relationship with God.
3. Avoid an accusative or blaming posture in vocalizing those complaints.
Look at Habakkuk's words. They have that all too familiar ring to them.
¨ "...you do not listen."
¨ "...you do not save."
¨ "...you make me..."
¨ "...you tolerate wrong."
Now thanks be to God that he is able to look beyond our sometimes ungrateful and irreverent attempts to communicate what we are feeling. Friends here in this world might not take our blaming accusative criticisms nearly so well as God does at times. I know of a man who quit coming to church because he blamed God for his failure to land a better job than the good one that he already had. Can you believe it?
4. Do your best to rate your complaint on the emotional scale.
Is the complaint a 10, being the most emotionally charged or a 1, being the most objective viewpoint? Emotions although they need to be honestly communicated can seriously alter the picture that we see. They can make us extremely vulnerable
to misinterpreting another person's actions and coming then to erroneous conclusions regarding their motives and attitudes. The more emotional charged your complaint is the more subject to error it is.
5. Deal with the most basic frustration that you are facing.
Don't allow yourself to treat symptoms alone while neglecting the real difficulty. A bucket strategically placed to catch water dripping from your kitchen ceiling only prevents your floor from getting wet. It does nothing for the hole in the roof.
What was Habakkuk's real problem? Most likely one that we have all experienced at times. Can God be trusted in my own troubled life? When I don't feel like he is listening to me. (v.2) When I have prayed much and the problem has not gone away. (v.2) What then? Can God still be trusted? If we lose hope, life becomes very pessimistic. It did for Habakkuk. Look at the words that he pens in his complaint. They are so lacking in trust and optimism. "... the law is
paralyzed ... justice never prevails ... justice is perverted." (v.4) Beware of the false tones of emotional color.
6. Understand who it is that you are complaining to.
You can't hurt God's feelings. You can't provoke his wrath by asking questions. God is above the things that characterize the normal human response. When we are hurt we tend to lash out and hurt in return. When we are criticized we want to find ammunition to destroy the credibility of our critic. Don't fear that God will punish you for bringing your complaints to Him.
So what do I do?
I have no step by step method to offer. There are no directions on the back of this package. I can only recommend gaining a proper perspective on:
¨ Yourself - Honesty is essential in a relationship with anyone. It is paramount in your relationship with God.
¨ Your problem - What's really bugging you? Don't deal with secondary frustrations. Cut to the problem.
¨ Your God - Do you feel safe with God? Do you worry that He will be offended at your questions or your emotions and shun you like some earthly friend. If you really get to know Him then you will realize that you have nothing to fear when you turn to God. That kind of relationship is the perfect context for dealing with any of life's common frustrations and fears. Enjoy it. God wants you to.