Bring Discontent to God

I read an interesting blog that challenged my perception of complaining. In her post, the author delved into the difference between complaining and lamenting. She presented a case, drawing from the example of David who faithfully lamented before God in the Psalms.

She contrasted how complaining (woe is me, life isn’t fair) is bad while lamenting (only God can help and I’ll seek Him) is good.

David’s Lament

“I cry aloud with my voice to the Lord;

I make supplication with my voice to the Lord.

I pour out my complaint before Him;

I declare my trouble before Him.

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,

You knew my path.

In the way where I walk

They have hidden a trap for me.

Look to the right and see;

For there is no one who regards me;

There is no escape for me;

No one cares for my soul.

I cried out to You, O Lord;

I said, “You are my refuge,

My portion in the land of the living.

Give heed to my cry,

For I am brought very low;

Deliver me from my persecutors,

For they are too strong for me.

Bring my soul out of prison,

So that I may give thanks to Your name;

The righteous will surround me,

For You will deal bountifully with me.”

Deferred Hope & Lament

Wondering about the correlation between deferred hope and bringing complaints to God, I came across the story of Hannah in the Old Testament.

Hannah’s story opens the Books of Samuel. She was the wife of Elkanah (Elkanah was also married to Peninnah). Peninnah had sons and daughters while Hannah—the favored wife—was barren.

Because of this, Hannah’s sister-wife ridiculed her.

Hannah was heartbroken over her lack of a son. Every year, when the family went to make sacrifices, she wept over her reality as her sister-wife taunted her barrenness.

Count Your Blessings?

Hannah’s husband tried to appease her discontent by reminding her of what she already  had—his love .

A familiar strategy, I think. Count your blessings. But in this circumstance, it wasn’t enough.

When Hannah couldn’t take the weight of her despair any longer, she  sought the Lord at the temple , where even the priest misunderstood her situation and heaped more shame on her shoulders by accusing her of being a drunken woman.

Hannah was brought low by despair, taunted by her enemy, told to be happy with the status quo by her husband, and misunderstood by the priest, but she pressed on and received from God what she had hoped and prayed for.

God didn’t punish Hannah’s discontent. He fulfilled her desire. And she, in turn, gave her answered prayer back to God.

Proverbs 13:12 was penned under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire  fulfilled is a tree of life.

Challenging circumstances, unfilled desires, hurt, and heartbreak are a reality of life. When we encounter them, may we be like David and Hannah as we bring them before God, trusting him to save, fulfill, and deliver.

Hannah was brought low by despair, taunted by her enemy, told to be happy with the status quo by her husband, and misunderstood by the priest, but she pressed on and received from God. Click To Tweet

Let’s Talk

Have you struggled with the tension between hope, complaint, and honoring God? Have you considered lament? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or email me at steph@nathanfranckhauser.com.

(Emily Saxe’s post, Ordinary ways to Pursue and Honor God: Complaining, can be accessed here.) 

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