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