The Kind of Complaint That’s Pleasing To God


I recently had the privilege of speaking to a church in Wales on the topic of thankfulness.

My friend Pete, the pastor of the church told me it was good that I preached on being thankful because he said of the UK, ?We?re a nation of professional moaners.? A UK citizen asked the following on Yahoo.Answers: ?I’m British right, but I’m getting tired of people in this country moaning & complaining all the time. Why is that?? So maybe they do tend to moan and complain a lot.

But I would submit that all of us – not just Brits – have a tendency to grumble and complain. We regularly mutter things like, ?It is way too hot today,? ?I can?t believe I have to do this miserable job,? ?This traffic is ridiculous,? ?This is the most boring class in the universe,? …you get the idea. But we are especially tempted to complain and grumble when we go through hard times and suffering.

Yet Scripture tells us it?s a sin to complain. 1 CO 10:9-10 says:

?We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.?

And in Philippians 2:14 God commands:

Do all things without grumbling or disputing.

And Numbers 14 says that when we grumble it is against God:

?How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me.” NU 14:27

Think about it – when we grumble because it?s raining or too hot, we grumble against the one who creates the weather. When we grouse about our circumstances or pain, we do it against the sovereign, wise and infinitely loving One who designs even our hardships and afflictions for our ultimate good. Yet the Bible tells us there is an acceptable kind of ?complaint.? Listen to David:

With my voice I cry out to the LORD;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him. PS 142:1-2

David wrote this when he was hiding in a cave from Saul, who wanted to kill him. David certainly could have complained to the soldiers who were with him or grumbled to himself. ?I can?t believe this madman?s trying to kill me after all I did for him. I can?t believe I have to hide in a cave. I rescued Israel from Goliath and the Philistines and this is the thanks I get.? But instead he turned to God. He cried out and pleaded for mercy. He poured out his ?complaint? and told his troubles to God.

It?s ok – no, more than ok – it is good to pour out our struggles before God. We can tell him how hard things are, or how sad we feel. That we don?t understand. We can ask him why this is happening. We can tell him how?much we?re hurting, which is what David did in Ps 38:2-8:

For your arrows have sunk into me,
and your hand has come down on me.
There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
My wounds stink and fester
because of my foolishness,
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning.
For my sides are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

God didn?t say, ?Buck up David and quit your bellyaching!? God was happy to hear David?s ?complaint,? even though God knew full well that David was hurting. God knows every hair on our heads and?every twinge of pain we feel. But God didn?t say ?David, why are you telling me all this when I already know it?? He gladly heard David?s complaint, and God wants us to pour out our hearts to him. In 1 Peter 5:6-7 he says:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

When we cast our cares on God, we humble ourselves and honor God, by acknowledging our complete need of him and his power to change our situation. We also honor God by saying that despite our circumstances, we believe he is good and he cares for us.

So draw near to God in your affliction. Pour out your complaint before him. Cast your cares on him. Tell the Lord how much you need his help and power. He won?t despise your moans and groans, but will hear with compassion and sympathy and pour out his grace to help in time of need.

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.