Monthly Archives: February 2013

Complaint Department: Closed Indefinitely

Do you ever find yourself complaining to the Lord? Did I hear you say “frequently”? What if He just stopped listening to your complaints? Or maybe that’s the very thing you are complaining about – that feeling that God is not listening. Or if He is, He is not responding.

We’ve all been in that place before. That place of doubt.  And we’ve sometimes wondered if indeed God just wound up the universe and left it to run on its own, as some philosophers have proposed.

There are Scriptures, especially in the Old Testament, where God’s people felt that way. For instance, in Psalm 77:1-9 we read:

“I cried out to God for help;

I cried out to God to hear me.

When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;

at night I stretched out untiring hands,

and I would not be comforted.

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;

I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.

You kept my eyes from closing;

I was too troubled to speak.

I thought about the former days,

the years of long ago;

I remembered my songs in the night.

My heart meditated and my spirit asked:

‘Will the Lord reject forever?

Will he never show his favor again?

      Has his unfailing love vanished forever?

Has his promise failed for all time?

Has God forgotten to be merciful?

Has he in anger withheld his compassion?’ ”

There are very strong feelings of abandonment behind those words; feelings of being alone in the moment; of having nowhere to turn.

When God is all you have, the One you have depended on, and He seems not to be there; or not to be aware; or even not to care – it calls up the image of the clock maker who wound up the clock, went off on a trip, and has forgotten to return; when the clock winds down, it will simply stop and time will cease. In the meantime, it’s up to you to fend for yourself the best you can.

At times like these the enemy whispers, as he did in the Garden to Eve, “Did God really say . . . ?” . . . and . . . “If you eat that fruit, you’ll be as smart as He is and can figure it out for yourself; you won’t need Him.” . . . and . . . “Maybe He said you would die if you eat that special fruit, but you won’t surely die.” (Read the dialogue in Genesis chapter 3.)

I had a moment not long ago – a brief moment – when I felt that God had forgotten about this creature which He has made. I told Him that what I am going through is very hard; and the hardest part is waiting – for a change, for a miracle, or for new direction. It’s interesting that when we have to “wait on God” we doubt that we heard correctly from Him, while doing what we were sure He led us to do.

Anyway, in that unguarded moment I said to the Lord, “You don’t know what it’s like to have cancer, you never had cancer.” I spoke those words with utmost sincerity.  And though I expressed what I felt at the moment, I suddenly caught a glimpse of Jesus’ face, and I felt embarrassed; and then I felt ashamed.

It brought back memories from years ago when my wedding engagement was broken and I cried to God from my pain , “You don’t know what it takes to make me happy. Or You don’t care?” (Even though I had prayed for His will in whom I was to marry.) And when I later married and miscarried after waiting nine years to get pregnant, I accused:  “Why did you let this happen? I was better off before, not caring if I had a child.” Aka: You don’t know what I need, and if you do, where are you?

I didn’t feel ashamed at those earlier times, though God taught me some valuable lessons in spite of my complaining. But now, years later, with more maturity and more experiences of God’s love and care, I seem to be more sensitive to His pain – immediately after doubting His love.

Last week at our weekly Lifegroup meeting the question we discussed was a random question that someone had placed in our question jar:  “How do you know God is real?”

Various members told why and how they came to know that God was real. For some it was an internal witness of the Spirit, that experience of a gentle presence; for others the stories were of dramatic provisions and life-saving miracles – called “coincidences” by unbelievers.

The life event that God called to my mind involved an auto accident I had about 30 years ago. (You can read about it in my post entitled Accidental Encounters.) As I shared the many God-pieces of that accident experience, I relived the awe all over again, and in the re-telling I sensed His Spirit moving in me; so-much-so that during the next several days I recalled other incidences of provision, and rescue,  and fruit that has resulted from obedience to God’s voice over the years.

The Psalmist had a similar experience to mine, which he recorded in the next section of his Psalm of praise:

“Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal:

the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.

I will remember the deeds of the Lord;

yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

I will consider all your works

and meditate on all your mighty deeds.’

Your ways, God, are holy.

What god is as great as our God?

You are the God who performs miracles;

you display your power among the peoples.”

If you are in one of those “free-fall” moments and you are not sure how you are going to land, don’t panic.  And don’t allow the enemy to trap you into complaining – to God or to others. Stop and take a breath. Make a cup of hot tea; sit down in a comfortable chair, and remember.

Remember all that God has brought you through so far. Even though you may not have recognized God’s hand in your circumstances, see if you can picture Him there now – in the loving act of a friend or the kind deed of a stranger; in an unbelievable “coincidence”, an unexplainable calm in the midst of an emergency, or an unexpected peace in the midst of tragedy. These are all small miracles that point to the God of big miracles; the God who can be trusted with your life and every need you have.

Complaint department is closed. And God’s arms are wide open.

©2013, Marcy Alves

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