I can’t help but notice that all over social media for the past few weeks, there has been an overwhelming popular theme: complaining about this year, 2016. Putting aside the fact that the Lord has blessed me with a wonderful year which has had me look back at the year (including its afflictions), and declare “oh it’s a wonderful life, indeed!”, I wanted to look at the larger issue at hand: why is it normal and now even fashionable to always complain? What drives so many people to have a character of constant complaining and to be blunt, an attitude of ingratitude?
It is now esteemed in our culture, particularly in relation to women, to be harsh, negative and even rude. It is thought to be “authentic” and “real” to be a person of frequent complaints and childish sarcasm. It is the direct opposite of what God calls women to be:
But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious – 1 Peter 3:4
It is beautiful, in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, for women to be gentle, respectful, calm, serene and peaceful. He is pleased with godly women who are peacemakers and exhibit grace and patience, even (or rather, especially) in the midst of difficult situations. But as always, mankind has it twisted. It says such women are ‘fake’ or ‘unrealistic’ or whatnot for not complaining (or as some would say ‘for not being honest’).
Complaining has become the new virtue. It seems this is how people deal so often with their disappointments that it has become the norm, almost the remedy. I’d like to put forward a suggestion: the reason why our society has elevated complaining is because our society hopes not in God, but in man. For someone who does not know Jesus, all their hopes are either on themselves, others, society at large or very often, many things combined. God is not even thought of. And the bible warns us against hoping in man, whether in ourselves or in others:
Thus says the LORD: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, what sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heart comes…” – Jeremiah 17:5-8
Here, a person who trusts in people and a person who trusts in God are contrasted. The one whose hope is in mankind does not see good, even when it eventually does come. He is always disappointed and if he isn’t disappointed now, it won’t be long at all before he becomes disappointed. Whereas a person who trusts in the LORD can be healthy like the tree we read about in Jeremiah, that person can rejoice in every circumstance, giving thanks to God as it becomes abundantly clear that God is sovereign over all things.
Make the truth that God is sovereign a truth that you live by. Rest in knowing that nothing, even the small mundane things that are annoying in life, happen without his knowledge, permission, and good purpose. Rest in Isaiah where God says that He is:
declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done, saying ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish al my purpose’… – Isaiah 46:10
Don’t be led astray with temptations that call you to always complain. Enter 2017 with a hopeful heart of gratitude, as you continue to trust in the Lord.