When Sam returns home from work every night, he begins a litany of complaints regarding the day. He doesn’t like his boss. His work is boring. His coworkers are unpleasant. But does this focus on negativity really help anything? And more importantly, is it biblical?
It is easy to complain when things don’t go right. Our nature is to jump on the negative. The children of Israel knew this well. No matter what the provision, they continued to complain. Psalm 106:25 tells us, 'They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord'. Complaining reflects an attitude of ungratefulness and sometimes bitterness. In this case, it led to disobedience. And God was not pleased.
What happens when we complain? Do you feel better?
Maybe we do for the moment, but the negative contributes to a downward spiral. It darkens our perspective. Then, more complaints slip out of our mouth and we feel even more negative. Complaining can cause us to lose faith in God.
So, how do we put on the brakes when our natural tendency is to complain?
We can train ourselves to stop the negative and comment on the positive. As long as we don’t live in denial and avoid dealing with real problems facing us, it is good to find the up side in any situation.
To really conquer complaining, we have to cry out to God for help in this area. The absence of complaining requires a complete trust in God. It means facing all circumstances with the faith that God is in them and working them for our good. In Sam’s case, the perspective needs to change to: “I’m glad I have a job, maybe I can impact the people around me and trust God to challenge me or bring something new.”
At times, this perspective feels unnatural, even irrational. Why would I give thanks in the middle of a crisis or difficult circumstance? We should because being thankful isn’t about the crisis or circumstance. It is about God’s continuous presence, His watchful eye, His moving on my behalf and my trust that what He allows will be used for my good and His glory. This is a perspective I need to remind myself of regularly. I’m not saying this is easy.
Trusting and thanking God even when things go wrong or aren’t exactly what we want them to be is part of what brings His peace. So today, Sam is putting on the brakes, taking the high road and trusting in God’s unfailing love--a change we could probably all make as well.
Check out Dr. Linda Mintle’s latest book, Letting Go of Worry, for more help in this area.