I have a problem. I’m a chronic complainer.
My life is heaped with blessings upon blessings. I know it’s true. Yet I complain. I do it without noticing. In my quiet times alone, I realize and regret all my ungrateful words and thoughts.
I don’t know why I complain so much. It may be because I’m an observer and a teller. I make a litany of observations. That’s not going to change. But what must change is the percentage of those observations that are negative.
Sometimes I come off as discontent when I’m not. I complain about things that don’t really bother me. In my mind, I’m just being realistic and frank. I don’t even consider how my comments are being interpreted by people. A little less talking would be a good thing. I need to learn to be judicious in what I allow out of my mouth.
Sometimes I come off as discontent because I am. This calls for a heart change. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to amend actions without getting at the roots of the cause.
Too often I find myself wandering through life without a central focus. It’s easy to drown in the static of every imperfection when I lack perspective. Without a purpose, life is as empty as this song describes:
I’m learning to discern between purpose and plan. When I know I’m lacking, I try to compensate with plans. But I can’t make and fulfill solid plans without first establishing purpose. In fact, I can’t make and fulfill plans at all. I get frustrated. I get overwhelmed. I fail.
God provides the solution for my struggles. God is the purpose. God has the plans. God works through me to fulfill his plans despite my inability to do so on my own strength. When I try to create my own purpose, I am making myself a god. When I try to get my life in order by building up plans and setting my own course, I am stubbornly raising my voice instead of seeking God’s guidance. My unbelief leads to discontentment. In my stubbornness, I remain in chaos instead of accepting God’s peace. I toss aside God’s countless blessings and find plenty to complain about.
My study of the Old Testament is revealing how much I am like the people of Israel. They were slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years before they cried out to God for help. When they turned to him, he delivered them. God loved them passionately and fiercely protected them, but they were hot and cold for him. When the first sign of danger arose, they forgot to trust God. Repeatedly, the Israelites gave in to fear and discontentment. They complained to anyone who would listen, and they complained to God. But God kept guiding them anyway. He built them into a nation, establishing customs, identity, and security. When they turned away and started to self-destruct, God sent leaders and messengers in the form of prophets, priests and kings. When God showered his people with love and blessings, they ignored him. So he had to use punishments and pain to get their attention. But God was always drawing them to himself and leading them with intense love and commitment. All the while, he was preparing them to be the lineage of the Messiah, who would save not only them, but all nations and people. They still didn’t get it.
I am just like them. When things are going well, I believe my own plans are succeeding. When things are not to my liking, I present my requests to God. My prayers often sound like a list of demands. I’ve formed my ideas of how life should work and my version of seeking guidance is to ask God to work within and through my plans. Oh, how amazing my life would be if I would let go of control and let God work his plans in my life. Only God can reveal the real purpose for which I am alive.
When my purpose is in focus, all these complaints become so stupid. When the Spirit works in me, my eyes are focused on God and I can see the blessings upon blessings he’s giving me. How could I ever be discontent when I realize that the whole world is a love note written to me from God?
The purpose of life is a life of purpose. ~Robert Byrne
Everything that occurs in your life is part of God’s plan to wake you up. ~Leonard Jacobson
“By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believer the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in the world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4: 13-19