Wednesday, October 12, 2016

How to Complain to God

You will be righteous, Lord, even if I bring a case against You. Yet, I wish to contend with You: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the treacherous live at ease? You are ever on their lips, but far from their conscience. As for You, Lord, You know me; You see me. You test whether my heart is with You... How long will the land mourn and the grass of every field wither? Because of the evil of its residents, animals and birds have been swept away, for the people have said, “He cannot see what our end will be.”
Jeremiah 12:1-4

It's bound to happen sooner or later. You'll want to complain to God. Maybe it'll be when a coworker gets your promotion or when someone close to you dies or when you realize you can't afford to buy your kid that thing they really want. Eventually, you will feel the urge to complain...we all do. But do you know how to complain to God? Jeremiah's complaint gives us insight. 

One of the most important things to remember when we complain to God is that in a real sense we are also complaining about God. Since God is in control of all things, whatever we complain about we are complaining about something God has allowed in our lives. We are complaining about the decisions God has made. When we lift our eyes to heaven and shake our fist saying "Life isn't fair!" We are also inherently saying, "God, you haven't been fair to me." Jeremiah knows this, so he carefully begins his complaint by reminding himself who is complaining to and about. This is an important first step if you are going to avoid disrespecting God.

Then Jeremiah launches into his complaint, but he doesn't stop with the specifics of what is bothering him, Jeremiah tells God why He should care. He doesn't appeal to God in purely selfish terms. He shows how the current circumstances hurt the things God cares about most: His creation, His people, and His glory. God's creation is ruined as a result of the wicked. The land and the animals are affected by the people's sin (v. 4). God's people are also impacted (v. 2 & 4). Anytime the wicked prosper the righteous suffer. Moreover, when the land isn't producing enough food, God's people go hungry. Lastly, God's glory is diminished. His reputation suffers when the wicked prosper as if there were no God, no justice. God's people begin to believe that God is no longer watching (v. 4). Jeremiah uses his knowledge of God's heart to move Him to act.

Lastly, Jeremiah is very careful to acknowledge that God knows him perfectly. God sees you, and He knows your thoughts. Don't you dare attack God with complaints if you are guilty of unconfessed sin, if your heart isn't right before Him. Be careful to approach Him with humility and innocence or don't approach Him with your complaint at all.

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