I received an email this week from Prepare/Enrich (a counseling resource). It started out “4 Ways to Make Complaining Productive.” I laughed out loud.
As a human prone to depression and as a Hoosier where we are often nice but also passive-aggressive, there have been seasons when complaining was my default mode. Like the servants of the landowner in Jesus’s parable (Matthew 13: 24-29), I’d complain to God about all the weeds in my fields – not real weeds, like henbit or ragweed, but the day-to-day stuff that seemed to always be infiltrating the beautiful plan of God. “If only they/that/those would go away, then life would be grand!”
“Master, didn’t you plant good seed in your field? How is it that it has weeds?” The weeds the servant complains about look very much like the wheat itself. Close enough when it is young that you can’t really pull it, or you might be pulling the crop. The Master acknowledges this, telling his servants to just let things grow and they will take care of it at the harvest. Let things grow.
For one thing, we can’t always tell when something that we are complaining about might turn out to be good after all. You can eat henbit and ragweed – both have helpful properties for a variety of ailments. For another, sometimes it takes time for the true nature of things to reveal themselves. What alarms us, even seems to be dangerous, may not be the threat it appears when looked at from the Master’s perspective.
Weeds, and complaining, are not in my job description as a servant of the Living God. What a relief! What a blessing to know that, in the end, there will be a harvest! The irritations, worries, and obstacles will be burned away, and all that will be left will be the glory. Even in the midst of my complaining, the Master invites me to consider trusting him instead, with the complaints of others, and with my own.
Do no harm, do good, do your part to cooperate with the Master,