Monday, January 9, 2012


As a New Year's goal, Michael and I each selected a Bible-reading plan from the app on our phones to read the Bible in one year. I chose the chronological plan, so after a few chapters in Genesis, it had me jump over to read the book of Job.

Michael's plan has coincided with reading Job as well, so we've been discussing it a lot lately. More specifically, discussing the question of: is complaining a sin?

To provide some context, in case you've never read Job, it goes something like this:
Once upon a time, there was a righteous man named Job who had lots and lots of possessions, a large, happy family, and honored God faithfully with his life. One day, God and Satan were having a conversation and God allowed Satan to test Job because Satan suspected that under trials, Job would curse God. So in a matter of hours, all of Job's possessions (livestock) and all of his children were killed or taken away from him. Job was so upset that he tore his clothes and shaved his head (I'm assuming this was a custom of showing grief back then), but still, Job did not curse God. In fact, after cursing himself and the day he was born, he still had the faithfulness to say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord." [WOW!]
As if the above wasn't bad enough, God then allowed Satan to strike Job with boils from head to toe so that he was physically suffering in pain too. Job's wife even pressured Job to curse God, but Job replied "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?"

What an amazing response, so grounded in his resolve to love the Lord no matter what. It's true though, God is not only worthy of praise during the "highs" in our lives, but during the "lows" too.

The rest of Job is discussion back and forth between Job and his "friends" - Job cursing himself and questioning God about why this has befallen him, but never cursing him, and then Job's "friends" rebuking Job for being sinful. It's a little hard to understand because it's written in poetic form, but there is no doubt that Job is complaining about what has happened to him.

This raised the question in my mind of: is complaining sin? I had previously thought it was sinful to complain. But after some further reading, "complain" is only mentioned 5 times in the New Testament, but only two verses stand out to me as addressing this question:

James 5:9
Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.


1 Peter 4:9
Be hospitable to one another without complaint.

After contemplating these verses, and talking to Michael, I don't think the act of complaining is in and of itself a sin, but I think it breeds room for other sins to creep in more easily (selfishness, bitterness, etc.) As Michael wisely put it, complaining may not be wrong, but is it beneficial? I would of course answer no, most often complaining is not beneficial and only leads me to focus on myself.

In the context of this trial of infertility, it's easy and natural for me to complain about a lot of things. My takeaway from this, is that if I feel the need to complain, I should do so to God, just like Job did. It's okay to ask God why something has happened to you. It's not okay to blame Him or curse Him, but I think it's part of us having a relationship with Him to question Him and express confusion over something in our lives we do not understand. But ultimately, we should keep faith and hope in Him amidst trials in our lives. I like how Job does this in these two verses:

Job 13:14
Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.

Job 14:14
All the days of my struggle I will wait
Until my change comes.

I love that last one, I will wait until my change comes. Lord, I pray that my change comes soon!

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