Read Psalm 64:1-10
Complain , Complain , Complain
Hear me, O God, as I voice my complaint.
One of my favorite stories is of the monk who joined a monastery and took a vow of silence. After the first ten years, the abbot called him in and asked, “Do you have anything to say?”
The monk replied, “Food bad.”
After another ten years, the monk again had an opportunity to voice his thoughts. He said, “Bed hard.”
Then at the end of thirty years, once again the monk was called before his superior. When asked if he had anything to say, he broke his silence and blurted out, “I quit.”
The angry abbot shot back, “It doesn’t surprise me a bit. You’ve done nothing but complain ever since you got here.”
Great story. Like the abbot, I’m not a big fan of complaining, or complainers. My unspoken response to those who complain is what a friend once said to me when I was complaining: “Build a bridge and get over it.” Once in a while I will actually say that if I feel a jolt like that would be good for the griper.
Most of the time, we are instructed by God’s Word not to complain. Paul said to the Philippians, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.” (Philippians 2:14-15)
Yet there is a form of complaint that is not only acceptable, it is actually therapeutic. David did it in this psalm; David does it a lot in the psalms: He gripes to God. The whining and griping we voice, for the most part, grates on people who have to listen to us. It does us no good—even if they give in to what we want, they have been pushed down the path to a negative opinion of us. But when we pour out our complaint to God, things happen.
What things? One, we get out what, by and large, shouldn’t be bottled up inside. Two, voicing our upset gives us a chance to evaluate whether we should really be upset or not. Three, we put what we can’t control in the hands of the One who is in control of all things. And four, as we are asking God to change the circumstances we are griping about, God does something better—he changes us.
Notice in this psalm how David starts off with whining (Psalm 64:1-7) and ends up worshiping (Psalm 64:9-10). That is usually what happens when you follow the psalmist’s plan for problem-solving. And anytime you end up worshiping, you are in a good place.
“Sometimes it may be that while we are complaining of the hardness of the hearts of those we are seeking to benefit, the hardness of our own hearts and our feeble apprehension of the solemn reality of eternal things may be the true cause of our want of success.”