It all started with a box of dishwasher detergent. We bought a new box of the stuff and soon began noticing a change in our dishes. I grumbled to my husband that our brightly colored plastic tumblers were no longer brightly colored. Instead they looked like the surface had been etched. I thought perhaps the formula of the offending detergent was too high in abrasives.
I called the company to complain, hoping that I would not only get my money back for the offending detergent, but also for my ruined glasses. (Never mind that these plastic tumblers were almost twenty years old. It was the principle of the thing.)
The pleasant customer service representative asked that I send a sample of the detergent to the manufacturer along with some of the tumblers. I was certain that the company would acknowledge the problem and send us money to buy new glasses. However, what we received back in the mail was our own cardboard box with the old tumblers in them. Only now they were as vivid as before the problem detergent. Inside the box was an explanation that the company had not found the tumblers to be scratched, merely coated with a soap scum. They had soaked the dishes in a mildly acidic solution and the gray film was now removed. I felt a little silly for complaining about soap scum, but I was glad to have the problem solved even if I didn’t get my twenty-year-old tumblers replaced for free.
Simply griping about the lousy new dish detergent to my husband did nothing to fix the problem. But complaining to the manufacturer did. I needed to take my complaints to the right person.
King David knew this as well. He wrote in Psalm 142:
With my voice I cry out to the LORD;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD.
I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him. (v. 1-2)
“Now wait a minute!” I can hear you say. “King David, a man after God’s own heart, was complaining? I thought Christians weren’t supposed to grumble!
Here’s what I think. God is definitely displeased when we complain about our lives “behind His back,” effectively displaying displeasure with His provision and grace. But if we come to Him directly and pour out our concerns honestly, He can reassure us of His love and goodness.
Caryn Dahlstrand Rivadeneira writes in her book, Grumble Hallelujah,
“Grieving, shedding tears, emptying ourselves of hurt seems to clear up room for God to work.”
When I feel like complaining, I now try to go straight to the Manufacturer. I “pour out my complaint before the Lord.” I lay out all my feelings, my gripes, my sadness.
But I do it with the knowledge that God can do something about it. He can change the situation, fix the problem, or simply comfort my soul. Pouring out my complaint makes room for God’s consolation and reassurance.
Look at the end of Psalm 142:
Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! (v. 7)
Being a chronic complainer can leave you in a prison of discontent. But pouring out your complaints before God with the expectation that He is going to do something wonderful frees your spirit.
So take your complaints straight to the Manufacturer and watch Him work!
Question: What do you do when you feel like complaining?
This article was adapted from my book, Bless These Lips.