Dear Self,

Let’s get something straight. You complain, and you know it. You complain in the car, in your home, at church, and about a number of different things. The problem with your complaining is that you do not see it as a problem. You view it as harmless venting. You believe you are just stating facts, that a certain circumstance is frustrating. Your justification of complaining is truly unfortunate, because it certainly bothers God. The reason you complain is the reason it is wrong.

You complain because you misunderstand (or just miss altogether) the grace you have received and the purposes of God in your life. You misunderstand the grace you have received by not recognizing it and receiving it with gratitude. Life, breath, and all of God’s provisions for your life are acts of his kindness and are truly wonderful, and yet they all seem to disappear when the small inconveniences of life appear. In most of your complaining you miss the good purposes of God for your life—purposes he has made clear. “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28 nasb). This truth should remain a constant meditation, particularly in a world filled with frustration, frailty, and failure. Though we are not always aware of the particular ways in which God causes all things to work out for our good, we have this promise, and it should be enough to challenge and conquer our complaining spirit.

And no, you do not get a pass because you can handle the big problems in life with this promise but not the small ones. Perhaps when sickness, death, and affliction come into your life, you run to God and his promises and find comfort that gives peace and patience. Maybe it is just the small stuff that you sweat. So what is the big deal?

Everything! In fact, your complaining about the small stuff is more dangerous than complaining about the big, because life is made up of the small stuff. Tragedies punctuate periods of your life, but it is the smaller inconveniences that make up the bulk of your existence, and this is what most people will see you handle. Those situations are the most obvious testing ground of your faith. If God’s grace is big enough for you to handle the big problems, why isn’t it enough for you to walk meekly though the smaller issues? Perhaps the lesson is that you haven’t driven the gospel deep enough into your heart and mind. Otherwise it would bear fruit where you need it. Are you complaining today? Consider the grace of God in all of life, and in the gospel particularly. Be assured of his purpose in all things inconvenient and tragic, and you will find the cure for complaining.

Joe Thorn

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