A little girl was helping her mother get the table ready for dinner. A large group of church members were scheduled to arrive in the next half hour and dinner was taking much longer to cook than expected. The little girl’s mother was extremely stressed and was quite frustrated before the church members arrived. When the group finally arrived and they were seated at the table ready to eat, the little girl’s mother asked her to say the blessing. “But I don’t know what to say,” the child responded. “Just say what mommy would say,” the mother retorted. The little girl put her hands together, bowed her head, and slowly prayed, “Dear Lord, why did I invite all of these people over for dinner?”
Don’t you just dread conversations with people who have complaining tongues? You know the ones I am talking about. You ask how they are doing and before you know it, you hear about everything from the sore on their toe to the bump on their behind. Soon you wonder, “Why did I even ask?”
Psalm 142:2 is a great reminder of what we should do when we feel like whining. “I pour out my complaint before Him; before Him I tell my trouble.” (NIV) The secret to dealing with our complaints is taking them to the One who can really do something about them.
Not long ago I did a great deal of complaining about the drivers who speed up and down the street where I live. I complained to our secretary, to my husband, to my neighbors and even to the police, but no one seemed to do anything. We live in the country so the teens like to use our street as a drag strip. More than once I have been called outside at two o’clock in the morning to find a teenager’s car perched on top of the culvert in our ditch. Worried that someone was going to get seriously hurt, I began to pray that God would handle this situation. What a novel idea! Why is it that we sometimes make prayer our last resort?
As I began praying, the speeding didn’t stop but something miraculous happened. Jesus appeared at the end of my street! LITERALLY! I turned onto my street after a long road trip one evening and there was a ten-foot billboard of Jesus with His arms outstretched perched at the end of the road. Just like that, He showed up! I got so tickled I almost ran into Jesus. I thought of the drunk drivers who often speed down our street and what might run through their mind when out of nowhere, Jesus appears. THAT should get their attention.
A legitimate complaint can only be resolved when we take it to the person who can change our situation. If we take our complaint to someone who can do nothing about it we need to ask ourselves this question, “Am I complaining to get sympathy or do I want a solution?”
Now we have all been in a place where we needed someone who would listen to us. When we find others who are great at feeling sorry for us but offer no suggestions for helping us move forward, they are called enablers. In other words, they help us stay right where we are — in the very place that we are complaining about. The next time you are in need of a complaining session, find someone who will sympathize with your situation then propel you past your problem. If they don’t have the answer, they will encourage you to find a source that can help. One complaint breeds another complaint; therefore, if your friend joins your complaining but offers no solutions, a healthier alternative is available.
First of all, pray and ask God what He would have you do. It may be that there is no need to involve another in your dilemma. If there is, ask Him to send someone who will help you find the purpose of what He wants to accomplish through your problem. Then, take action. Self-pity wastes time and keeps us from God’s best. If the solution does not come right away, continue to seek God until you find the answer. As you seek the solution, keep a “Gratitude List.” Find the things that you are grateful for and make a list. Complaining and being gracious is like bending over and standing up at the same time. It is impossible. When you are tempted to complain, focus on the good things that God has done. Before you know it, you will see Jesus everywhere. You may even see Him at the end of YOUR street!