What are you complaining about today? I think complaining is a staple, which is just as deeply embedded into our cultural psyche as nail-biting, constantly clearing one’s throat, or any other habit - or addiction.
A life-long, habitual complainer has no limit as to the things to complain about — heavy traffic, hectic schedules, not enough money, worn clothes, worn car, unruly children, house in need of repairs, Kids complaining about school, the elderly complaining about the cold, and younger people complaining about the heat.
In the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey came home one night after, in despair after discovering his company had lost thousands of dollars, and the certainty of bankruptcy and prison. When he walked in the door, he saw his wife Mary and all four children preparing for the family Christmas get-together. His oldest daughter was practicing a Christmas carol on the piano. In the depths of his sorrow, he lashed out, “Why do we have to live in this drafty old barn? It’s a wonder we don’t all have pneumonia. Does she have to keep playing that silly tune over and over again? And why do we have to have all these kids?" Nothing was right in his world that night. But in the end, he found joy when he learned how dismal his little corner of the world would have been if he had never been born.
Do you complain about your smoking, worn out old car with too many miles on it? Hey, it still gets you from point A to point B.
Do you complain about your job? Well, think about destitute people who are wondering tonight, where their next meal is coming from.
Do you complain all your children creating pandemonium in the house? Those sounds of children giggling and rowdiness are sounds of life. Just think how empty and lonely life would be if they were all suddenly taken from you.
Did you complain because the poor little old soul who was slowly shuffling her feet, desperately trying to get inside Walmart, was blocking your way and keeping you late to some mundane, worthless meeting? Just stop right there, and thank God you have your good health and energy.
Wives, do you complain about your husband failing to put his shoes away or hang his coat up after he gets home - or else sitting in his recliner focused on the game on TV? Think about the woman whose husband left her last month, for another woman — or else, serving time in prison.
Husbands, do you complain about your wife nagging you all the time? Then think about the sweet little old man who happily makes his way to the nursing home every day to sit in the lobby, with his arm gently around his little wife, whose mind is completely gone because of dementia.
Do you complain about your house being too small — decor out of date — and faucets leaking? Remember there are hundreds of thousands of homeless people who are just grateful to have a warm blanket and perhaps a cup of hot soup while out in the frigid winter weather.
The Israelites were never at a loss when it came to complaints. They were in bondage in Egypt for 430 years. But God made a way for their escape. They spent the following 40 years wandering in the wilderness, complaining about the manna God sent from heaven to feed them, and wishing they were back in Egypt. They could never be satisfied. Several times they sought to stone Moses for bringing them out into the hard living conditions --never mind that they escaped the torture of Egypt. They even wished to die in the wilderness rather than to face the giants in Jericho. (Numbers 14) And dying in the wilderness is exactly what they got.
So, the next time you feel the urge to complain, just remember, there are millions of people in this world who would gladly exchange lives with you.
Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.