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Complaint Department Closed - Prayer Department Open

Mom always taught me to treat others as I wanted to be treated myself. If you have seen how some of the grocery store staff are being treated today, you might just realize there are a whole lot of people out there who didn't learn this lesson very well when they were growing up! Complaints, anger, and even disgust at not having enough of this or that on the shelves, as though it were the fault of the cashier, stocker, or even the store manager! Have you ever written a letter of complaint? Perhaps you received less than stellar service, or the product we received just did not live up to your expectations - instantly launching into the "complaint" mode. Our psalm today begins as a letter of complaint. His observation: Things just weren't working out as well as he'd hoped - either for himself or the evil people around him. We all have expectations of how things should work, but does that mean they will always work that way? Not likely!

Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. (Psalm 73:25-26 NLT)

His complaints were many - kind of like ours at times - but they weren't untrue. Complaints are not always 'unfounded' - some are very truthful facts about a process that broke down, a thing that didn't do what it was supposed to do, or a thing not being there when we counted on it being right where we normally find it. If you find yourself ready to launch into the complaint mode right about now, think again. Is your complaint really toward the clerk, stocker, or manager? Not really. Is it against 'big business'? Not really. Is it against the government? Not really. Truth be told, your complaint is probably best directed at a 'force' that exists in every human heart and is exploited to the maximum every time there is some crisis we have to navigate through. What is that 'force'? Fear.

For our psalmist, he noted that the proud prospered despite their wickedness. They actually were doing well when he suspected they did not deserve to be so well (kind of like us when we compare our current need for something to the guy somewhere we are sure has stockpiled rations, toilet paper, and water for 'whatever will come'). It certainly gets our goat, doesn't it, when the wicked seem to avoid the consequences of their actions or think about how others are affected when they have a need that could easily be met by their surplus? To the psalmist, the wicked seemed to live painless lives. In his eyes, he rarely saw them dealing with disease. Their bodies were healthy and strong - yet God's people were facing things they'd rather have avoided entirely. In truth, we complain when we see God's kids hurting, don't we? We want others to feel the pain, too.

To the psalmist, they escaped the troubles and problems of the others he observed. To him, they kind of walked above the muddle of the other problems faced by either his people or himself. Why is it some seem to live as they want, always escaping the mess they leave behind? They flaunt their greed, almost like wearing it like a jeweled necklace or fancy clothing. They display their cruelty and pride as though it was a thing of grandeur. Now, honestly, doesn't this just drive us nuts? They have all they wished for right now. Theirs is a life of seeming ease. No amount of effort ever seems to be required on their parts - they just succeed at all they touch, while others seem to work hard and realize no reward for their toil. Those clerks in the stores - don't you think they are defeated by the empty shelves as much as you are?

The response of God's people is important because one cannot see this repeatedly and not have some type of issue with it. I don't think it is wrong that we want answers - to understand why there are such inequities between the wicked and those seeking to live upright lives. It is not uncommon to question the outcome of the wicked. Our response needs to be one of turning to God with the tough questions. Go directly into the sanctuary of God. No better place to sort out our complaints, or ponder our fate, than in the presence of God. There we shall proclaim: "I finally understood the destiny of the wicked..." See, in God's presence, we get perspective. Things we just don't get are made clear. This brings me to the point of our complaint. God is never put off by our complaints - he just wants to give us the correct perspective.

To lay things out before God is never a bad thing. In fact, God would rather we be honest about our struggle than to hold back or secretly envy the wicked. When we do, we allow bitterness to enter - feeling as though God is withholding something good from us. In the presence of God, all such bitterness and envy must melt away. "Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside." This is the path bitterness takes - a destructive path which leaves us all torn up inside. God's response to our honesty will be to take our hand and bring us through by his counsel. God's goal is not to chastise us for our bitterness and our complaints, but to guide us through to see things as he knows them to really be. We can do no better than to come to the one who can set us straight in our perceptions and our opinions! Just sayin!

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