Monday, March 5, 2012

Complaining, Complacency, and Compassion (Part 1)

I haven't blogged for the last few weeks, due to just being plain crazy busy...and maybe a slight plateau in my writing enthusiasm.  As I was praying the last few days for God to teach me something new, He brought me back to three things that have been on my heart and mind: complaining about trivialities, complacency in our spiritual life, and compassion for those that God feels compassion for.  Rather than force people to read a humongous manifesto about the three of them combined, I decided to break it up into three parts and tackle one item per post.


My son is a darling.  I love him to pieces, and most of the time he is an angel.  However, lately he has had some really tough mornings.  He definitely takes after me, his mother, in his lack of enthusiasm and general grumpiness when it comes to waking up.

Yawn.  Argh, the light is starting to peek through my room-darkening shades.  It must be about eight a.m.  It's too early.  I wish that my toddler circadian rhythm would allow me to sleep until nine like I used to.  Alright, here we go.  Mama!  Sheesh.  It's been five seconds since I called to her.  I thought she'd be waiting outside my door.  MAMA!  Ugh.  Where is she?  I want my diaper changed immediately, and she'd better have a sippy cup full of warm milk when she walks through the door.  I would think that anything less would be atrocious on her part.  Okay, we're working on thirty seconds now.  Finally, here she comes.  She'd better have that mil...WHAT!  How dare you come in here without a sippy cup!  I'm liable to throw myself back down on my pillow pet and scream at you!  No! Don't you dare change my diaper now!  I want MILK! 

Ugh, she's still stronger than me.  She wrestled with me all the way to the diaper changing station.  Guess I'm going to have to wait for TWO WHOLE MINUTES to get my milk today.  Grrrrr.  Alright, diaper change over.  Off we go to the kitchen.  It's MILK TIME, baby!  Here's my mom, pouring the milk.  SERIOUSLY!?  You're using the BLUE cup?!  You know that I like my milk in the YELLOW cup!  OH MY WORD, why are you NOT answering my requests!  I want things the way I want them!  And I want it NOW!  I'm going to go throw a fit now because I want milk in the yellow cup!  I'm going to go complain to all of my toddler friends about how when you serve me milk, you serve it to me in a stupid blue cup, AND you waited 30 seconds to come in and rescue me from my crib today.  I'm going to complain about you a LOT, Mom!  You didn't do things exactly the way that I think you should!

Yes, that is really his general disposition on occasion in the morning.  Most mornings he's happy and grateful to be picked up, changed, and given milk, but on occasion he has a negative attitude and the smallest things give him cause to complain.  Now, I know that he's not quite two and he's prone to irrationality by virtue of his developmental stage, so I laugh off the mornings where he is a total grump and chalk it up to totally normal toddler behavior.

But as you were reading the above story, did you notice anything similar to the way that Christian adults sometimes behave?  We feel that anything less than us being absolutely comfortable is a mistake on God's part.  We had saved up X amount of money to go on vacation, and then our kid got sick and we had to pay medical bills.  Rather than thank God for having allowed us to pay for the medical bills immediately because of the provision of savings, we complain about the missed trip.  Rather than thank God for our job, which helps provide for our families, we complain that it's not high-paying enough, that our boss is too ___ (fill in the blank), or that we are passed over for a promotion.  Rather than thank God for the beautiful children that he has created to be in our families, we complain about the gender of the child or the burden of raising it.  Instead of thanking God for our health, we complain when we contract the common cold.  Try having cancer once in your life, you'll never complain about a cold/flu bug/sinus infection EVER again.

We Christians complain ALL the time about ridiculous stuff.  We somehow place an expectation on God that we are not to endure trials or character-building situations.  How do you think this reflects our faith to non-believers?  We are commanded to do everything without grumbling or complaining (Phil. 2:14), and yet so many of us have bought into this mentality that we deserve nothing less than a beautiful house, an easy life, and tons of extra money in the bank.  When Christians complain about trivialities, non-believers hear them and think that there is nothing special or different about our attitudes.

The truth is, very few of the Christians that I run with have any reason to complain against God's provision in their lives (including Ryan and I!).  We are all comfortable, safe, and well-provided for.  But there is an innate feeling within many of us that is a toxic remnant of our inherent sinful nature that makes us feel like we are little gods on our throne, and no one had better forget that.

The Israelites were famous for this grumbling & complaining attitude as they wandered the desert.  Numbers 11:1-4 details their lack of thankfulness:
And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them. Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat!

Notice that it said that God's anger burned.  Here were a couple million of His people, that He was lovingly teaching and caring for, and they continued to complain...because wandering in the desert was not what they had planned for their lives, nor was a vegetarian diet.  They even wanted to return to their life of enslavement in Egypt at some points during their forty years.  How about that for rationality?  What a slap in the face it is to God when we flippantly tell Him, "Yeah, I know that you're providing for me and all, but it's not enough.  You're not enough for me."  I don't know about you, but that makes me shiver to think of the way that God's anger burns against those that complain about trivialities.

Now, I am not expecting that we are all going to be perfect at this notion of not complaining.  Sometimes life gives us seriously bitter lemons, and it is healthy for us to express our disappointment and our anger.  Bottling our feelings is never a good idea emotionally, and I do truly believe that God wants us to come to Him with our feelings.  What I don't think God likes or desires is for us to be ungrateful and bitter and negative.  It is a good idea to have someone in our lives that is a mentor or a close friend that is able to point out truth to us when we are in the depths of despair or crisis.  For an example of this, read the book of Job, specifically chapters 10 and 11.  Job was in the middle of his trial and illness, and he complained bitterly against the Lord in Chapter 10.  His friend Zophar confronts him with truth in Chapter 11 and pretty much tells Job to check his sinful attitude.  Do you have a Zophar in your life?  Is there someone that you're willing to listen to when they straight up tell you that your attitude is not where it should be?

Complaining is not something that any of us are immune to.  However, we need to train ourselves to think more in terms of thankfulness and to ensure that our prayers and petitions are chock full of thanksgiving.  Our God is a giver of good gifts!

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Wow...Awesome Kendra. Really... You have a gift and God is truly working through you and Ryan in amazing ways. Thank you so much for sharing. You are reaching many out here in the world through your blogs...helping and teaching and just reminding us to do a 'reality check' on our certain situations.
Thanks again.