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Sunday, December 10, 2023

I found the cure (for complaining)

By Adam Hicks, pastor, Desperation Church

The world is full of chronic complainers today. We see them on social media, we see them in the news, and we overhear them in conversations. You may have started reading the first few sentences of this article and realized that you, yourself, are a chronic complainer.

The truth is, it’s easy to catch the disease of chronic complaining. It’s incredibly contagious. After all, there is plenty of subject matter out there to complain about. 

Complain: to express dissatisfaction or annoyance about something. 

Chances are, you are dissatisfied with some things on a global level, a national level, and a personal level, all the way down to the service you had at that restaurant yesterday. You could be dissatisfied with inflation, your job, your spouse, your friends, your school, your paycheck, your kid’s daycare, that pothole in the road that’s not fixed, or the temperature outside. You get the point. Our lists of complaints can be endless. 

Chances are, on your personalized list of complaints, you will find something that you once asked God for. Maybe at one time in your life, you needed a job, and perhaps you sent a text to some friends asking them to pray that the interview goes well, and you ended up getting that job. Somewhere along the line, the drive to work got old, or your boss became micromanaging, and you found yourself complaining. 

Maybe, once upon a time, you were single, praying for a spouse, and God answered your prayer. Today, you are married, literally living in your answered prayer, yet you often find yourself complaining about them. 

We can do this with everything from starting a business, to getting into the college we wanted to attend, to buying the house you wanted, to starting a family. 

“What was once a prayer seems to have shifted into a problem.” 

How did we get here, you ask? Somewhere along the way, perhaps unknowingly, there is a shift that happens in our hearts and minds. It’s like a revolving door. One thing leaves, and something else comes in. In this case, gratitude leaves, and grumbling walks in. 

Why is that? The truth is that your enemy, the devil, wants to steal our worship of God. He doesn’t want you to see a blessing. He wants you to see a curse. He doesn’t want you to see what you DO have, but what you DON’T, which leads to a dissatisfaction that utters frequent complaints. 

Complaining is a pattern of this world. Praise, worship, and thanksgiving are patterns of the Kingdom of God. I love how Paul says in Romans 12: 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2 

It’s important to evaluate our hearts and ask ourselves this question: “Whose pattern am I conforming to?” It’s important to allow The Lord through His word to renew our minds and to conform to His pattern. 

The pattern of the Kingdom of God is the opposite of the world’s. It’s the opposite of our flesh. I have found personally that as we conform to His way, it puts our human nature (our flesh) in a place where it has to die, in this case, our chronic complaining. 

Why is this important? I believe Paul gives us the answer in his letter to the Philippians: 

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” – Philippians 2:14-15 

In order to make a difference and shine, we must be different. Our patterns of grumbling should transition into patterns of gratitude. 

If you have read the book of Psalms, depending on what translation you read, you may have repeatedly read the word, “SELAH” in the middle of the text. Theologians have no clear definition of this word due to a lack of clarity in translation. From my personal study and consideration of synonyms, “SELAH” could be viewed as a moment to pause for praise or a transitional point in a song. You see it “SELAH” 71 times in the book of Psalms. Take, for instance, the 3rd Psalm, where David, fleeing from his son Absalom, begins with complaints about his increasing enemies and their doubts about the Lord’s rescue. Then you encounter the word “SELAH”. As you read on, it’s as if a different perspective emerges, with David extolling the goodness, protection, and rest provided by God amidst danger. 
“When we learn to apply “SELAH,” your song will change.” 

As we enter the Holiday season, I know there will be much to complain about. From Black Friday shopping lines, to cooking and cleaning for family get-togethers, or the hope that “Cousin Eddie” doesn’t make an appearance. We all have a “Cousin Eddie”.  

I encourage you, as you are scrubbing baseboards, cooking, spending money, gathering with family and friends with a calendar full of events, to take your own personal “SELAH”. In the middle of all the chaos and stress, pause and reflect on the goodness of God. Evict grumbling and welcome gratitude back into your heart. Begin to thank the Lord for all He is and for the countless blessings you’ve received. Be specific as your heart and mind echo new lyrics of God’s goodness. Remember, you were created to worship, not to complain. 

In conclusion, I want to encourage you to do this every day.  Everyday is a day that The Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it. By choosing a life of worship, you’ll find yourself unshaken in the face of life’s overwhelming culture. You will shine brightly for the world to see!

Adam Hicks is pastor at Desperation Church in Jasper.

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