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Welcome to the Complaint Department

August 4, 2017

“How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?” Psalm 13:1

In one of my favorite children’s books Oh, the Places You’ll Go! the great philosopher Dr. Seuss writes about the ups and downs of life. Sometimes, he says, “Hang-ups can happen to you.”

He’s right of course. Life can be going along smoothly, but eventually, to some degree or another, trouble happens. So what do you do when life takes a turn for the worse? When your dreams explode in your face? What do you do when deep disappointment dangles you over the abyss of despair by a fine thread? When it seems as though there is no movement from heaven on your behalf—that maybe God has abandoned you?

Maybe you can relate to how David felt when he poured out his heart to God in Psalm 13:1-6. Although Samuel had anointed him to be the next king of Israel, David found himself running for his life and hiding out in caves as King Saul chased him month after month, year after year. No doubt David was tired of living like a fugitive. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. And so, he finally filed a complaint: “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”

I’m so thankful that David introduces us to the freedom to be honest with God about how we feel. My guess is that most of us can probably identify with the insecurity and instability David felt. We may not be running like fugitives, but we know what it feels like to have people against us, or to feel like the odds are stacked against us. This may surprise you, but God doesn’t expect us to approach Him with a 24-hour smile. In fact, I like to think that He has a complaint department in heaven with a big “Welcome” sign over the door. The problem is, we are so quick to complain to all the wrong people, when really, God is the only One who can do something about it. As Dr. Seuss admits, “Un-slumping yourself is not easily done,” but perhaps a good place to start might be approaching God honestly with how we feel about our circumstances.

I find it interesting that after David started talking to God about his feelings, suddenly his complaint turned to more of a plea, begging for God’s help. “Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death” (Psalm 13:3). What began as a complaint quickly turned to compliant confidence in God’s character, as David acknowledged God’s power to save him. You can almost see his confidence building as he finally declared, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation” (Psalm 13:5).

It’s a reminder that in the midst of crisis we can find great confidence in the power of God to rescue us and turn the situation into something good. When we are in the presence of God—even if it’s in His “Complaint Department”—we are reminded of His steadfast love and faithfulness. So go ahead, file your complaint, and wait for God to surround you with the confidence-inspiring security of His presence.

YOUR JOURNEY…

  • Have you ever been in a situation where you felt insecure and unstable in your circumstances?  What did you do about it?
  • Do you think it’s okay to complain to God? Why, or why not?
  • What aspects of God’s character inspire confidence in times of crisis?