Average read time: 5 minutes
Do you complain too much? I do.
And I’m not talking about venting regarding injustice, the anger that comes with grief, or discussing the world’s problems. I’m talking about your run-of-the-mill complaining and grumbling about daily life.
I’ve been so exhausted lately that it feels like the filter that normally keeps me from complaining at astronomical levels is in disrepair, leaving a messy trail of complaints and weary-heartedness everywhere I go.
The trouble? I’m vulnerability’s biggest cheerleader. I champion answering the “How’ve you been?” question as honestly (and politely) as humanly possible. And this “champion of vulnerability” mind-set plus a broken “am I complaining too much?” filter is horrible, destruction-causing mix when my spirit is tired.
Have you ever felt this way?
Maybe you’re like me and life hasn’t always dealt you a fair or easy hand. (I promise I’m about to get to the point of this post—stick with me.) In my 28 years, I’ve seen more than the normal share (in my opinion) of dysfunction and difficulty, but that doesn’t mean that I get a free pass to let my “am I complaining too much?” filter wear out and break down. And it definitely doesn’t allow me to pretend I don’t have hope, to find the lame thing about every day and focus in on that.
What I’ve discovered in difficulty is there are two absolute truths that sit side by side of one another: Life sucks. God is good.
Romans 5: 1–5 (ESV) reminds us: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Emphasis mine.)
Notice it doesn’t say “but we COMPLAIN in our sufferings.”
You may ask: But what if I’m going through some really hard stuff, does “rejoice in our suffering” mean I can’t vent or grieve? By all means no. Honestly, grieving (and being angry) over injustice, loss, death and destruction, sickness, abuse, and sin is a righteous response to those things—not to mention it’s healthy. Just look at the Psalms. David had it pretty rough (family chasing him down, people wanting to kill him, living and hiding in caves), and there’s plenty of evidence of genuine grieving and lamenting over difficulty and injustice in the Psalms. However, you often see him begin or end his poetry with giving thanks to God for God’s sovereignty, love, and provision in the midst of tribulation—further evidence of those side-by-side truths: Life sucks. God is good.
So the truth is this: Life is really unfair. Life is really hard. Humans do really horrible things to one another. People take advantage of the soft-hearted and the eager-to-help. Sometimes the things you hope for the most don’t come to fruition. In a second, everything you’ve worked for can be taken from you. Childhood is sometimes stolen. Those who once loved you can reject you. Sin entered the world a long time ago and really screwed things up. Health issues can steal your energy and work to take your joy.
The coexisting truth is: The Lord’s grace is enough. He is making all things new. He is working to restore and revive the world to its intended state. Christ died for the hurting, the lonely, the sick, the abusers, the stuck, the poor, the depressed, the anxious, the unfree, the bullies, the rejected, the weak, the unclean. He knows every hair on my head, counts my tears, monitors the sparrow, and clothes the fields in a splendor of flowers. Christ heals, delivers, consoles, comforts. His mercies are new every morning, new as each sunrise.
Setting healthy and holy grieving aside in its own category, what would the world look like if the people of God would stop complaining about the day-to-day and truly to rejoice in Christ in all things? What if the people of God stopped grumbling about their jobs, kids, friends, income, family, busyness, or chores and instead used that emotional energy to serve and encourage others?
In Philippians 2:14–16 (ESV), Paul advises us to: “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
When I distill my time on earth down to the moments that matter, when I look at everything I’ve known and experienced and complain about, all of the reasons to “grumble” seem miniscule and ridiculous compared to this actual, real truth: I have seen the glory of God.
Guys, I have seen His glory. I have seen His faithfulness amidst troubles. I have seen and experienced His healing hand, His merciful love, His ever-enduring, never-tiring grace.
During difficult seasons, I’ve heard His voice reach out to me in the dark. In moments of trial or exhaustion, I’ve felt His loving arms welcome me into His presence again and again.
And if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, if life is too easy or too comfortable, we probably aren’t doing Gospel work.
If you’re a Christian and that thought doesn’t sit well with you, hear me out: If we are actively doing Kingdom, Christ-promoting work and laying down our lives, life is going to be hard. If we are laying down our lives for those in need—the poor, widows, orphans, our neighbors, the voiceless, immigrants, each other—life will be messy, painful, imperfect, tedious, tiring. And even if living this way seems to come naturally or feels “easy,” we are all going to meet opposition from the enemy at some point. It’s just what happens if you’re doing good work.
And on top of all that: If we live in a developed country, didn’t lose a house in a recent hurricane/have a safe place to live, have a secure job, a vehicle, our health, a family or community that loves us, food, and clothing, what do we have to complain about anyway?
So, I complain too much—about big and small things. But I’m working hard to stop. Want to join me?
Are you in a difficult season? Are the days feeling too long? Do you feel discouraged?
Join me in using the hashtag #goodthingsonharddays to share good things (pictures of life being its beautiful self, real stories of hope, and encouragements!) when the days are overwhelming, your heart is tired, and you’re tempted to lose your “ am I complaining too much?” filter. Together, let’s look for those little things that bring us joy in the day-to-day.