God got annoyed with his people for constantly grumbling and complaining in the desert and there are numerous verses in the New Testament warning us not to complain, grumble or become Moaning Minnies. Just check out Phil 2:14, James 5:9 and I Peter 4:9 for starters.
So what are we meant to do? Not say anything to God? Keep quiet?
Because here’s the thing, no matter how amazing, average or awful life is for you right now, it can easily flip until it feels like we’re enduring Chinese water torture. If you’re not familiar with this ancient practice, let me explain.
But be warned, it sounds pretty grim if I’m honest.
The idea is that cold water is continuously dripped onto someone’s scalp until they go bonkers or confess to whatever deep dark secrets they’re holding. Just the thought of it makes me squirm.
The trouble is, life can feel a bit like that sometimes. The constant drip, drip, drip of everything from mildly annoying mishaps (locked your keys in the car, again), to hurtful or hard to hear news (your BFF is pregnant after just one month and you’ve been “trying” for over a year), to the deeply devastating (the scans show the cancer’s back and untreatable).
That’s when we want to scream at God/life/everyone.
Well I do anyway.
So what are we meant to do? Just go ahead and rant at God?
Well, yes…and no.
I know, clear as mud.
Letting out our heart and soul to God is always a good thing but our goal should always be to lament rather than complain. So what’s the difference and how do we make sure we lament rather than complain?
3 Ways to Tell the Difference between Complaining and Lamenting
- A complaint goes to another person while a lament is given solely to God
- A complaint focuses solely on our grievance but a lament grounds our pain in the truth of who God is.
- Complaints are screamed into the silence while a lament is uttered within the music of our praise
Here’s an example of me complaining last week. Yes, you’re a fly on the wall to the less than glorious side of me.
I started like this…
“I’m so frustrated I can’t see a way forward and God’s not doing anything to show me the way.”
Now that’s a complaint if ever I saw one and it didn’t exactly help me feel close to God or help me in my quest to hear his voice.
So I shifted gears to this.
“God, you are good and faithful and I love you. I’m so frustrated I can’t see a way forward and you don’t seem to be doing anything to show me the way. In the silence I trust you.knowing you are working, somehow, somewhere.”
Not perfect but a whole lot better.
I know it’s really tough when God seems distant and silent and it’s in that void that lamenting becomes a tether to the One we love even in darkness.
If you find prayer tricky or simply don’t know what to say or would love some daily help and guidance praying through a rough patch in your life, grab my 10 Day Breathe Again Audio Devotion and each morning for ten days I’ll send you a short devotion, scripture and prayer you can make your own.
Remember, life and faith are a team sport and we’re in this together.
Let me guide you through 10 Days of Prayer and help you get unstuck in your prayers, feel closer to God, and feel His arms around you in your hardest moments.
And I’ll send a devotion, scripture, and a prayer you can make your own straight to your inbox each morning.