With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him. When my spirit faints within me, you know my way!Psalm 142:1-3 ESV
There is nothing that draws a complainer out quite like marriage. I have sat across the table from many a spouse grumbling about their mate. Sometimes the grievances are about patterns of sin, sometimes they are about the recent conflict, sometimes they are about the daily annoyances, sometimes they are just about life in general, but eventually, most people living in marriage end up complaining about the other person. Who can blame them? Living with a broken person in a broken world is hard. We can show grace and put their needs first, we can choose to let things go and forgive, we can show patience and kindness and help bear their burdens, despite their seeming unwillingness to bear ours, but in time, we all reach our limit. Enough is enough, and the complaints come pouring out.
The Bible has a lot to say about complaining. We learn from reading Scripture that faithless complaining is called grumbling and vehemently warns us against it. There are countless stories of the Israelites grumbling. God considers faithless complaining to be evil and often removes His blessing from those who grumble. The problem with this type of complaining is that it accuses God of doing something wrong. We declare that God is not good or faithful when He allows a difficult situation or person into our lives. We pronounce He is not loving or wise when we grumble about our spouse, or that He is not powerful enough to change the situation. For if he was, He would treat us better. He would changing our spouse or end the marriage. Faithless complaining is wrong.
There is another kind of complaining that God does allow and even encourages. This type of faithful complaining doesn’t challenge God, but rather is an honest, groaning expression of what it’s like to live in a broken world. We are surrounded daily by trouble and anguish. Our hearts can be broken over the grief we experience living in a fallen world. He knows that, so He encourages us to cry out to Him—He even teaches us how to do it in the Bible.
The Book of Psalms shows us how to express our aching hearts and cry out to Him in worship. One-third of the psalms are laments—these are a precious gift to us from a God who wants to hear our distress. A lament is a passionate expression of grief or sorrow, and in each one of these psalms, God directs how to pour out our hearts to him. Psalm 137 teaches us how to express our sorrow, Psalm 140 our anger, Psalm 69 our fear, Psalm 85 our longing, Psalm 88 our confusion, Psalm 22 our desolation, Psalm 74 our disappointment, Psalm 88 our depression. The psalmists experience the same external evil that we know, and they struggle with the same darkness we understand from living in a fallen world, and they know how to pour those struggles out to a God who is faithful and who cares.
He knows our troubles. He doesn’t expect us to deny our reality by putting a smile on our face and moving through the heartache. No, quite the opposite. God wants us to pour out our hearts to Him and tell him of our pain. Next time you want to complain about your spouse horizontally, open one of the psalms and cry out to God.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗