2007-11-30 - Whiny or Worshipful?
There's a national movement against what is considered "complaining," similar to the "What Would Jesus Do"© movement of years past. While I think there is Biblical foundation against too much complaining, I believe that some people take this too far. I have actually heard some Christians who claim that the Biblical books that express discouragement, anger or depression are merely fables, and only the "positive" ones are literally God's word. A side note: I have always wondered what qualifies such people - or any of us - to decide which passages are really God's word and which or not?
What if a friend started talking to you about how unfair life was, wishing revenge against his enemies, saying he is emotionally tired etc.? Would you think he was "whining?" I have heard that accusation against people who are venting. But what if I told you that you'd also be accusing a "man after God's heart," David, one of the Psalmists?
In Psalm 12, after bemoaning the state of the world with the spread of evil (sound familiar today?), David implores the Lord to cut out tongues of boasters. In Psalm 13, He cries out earnestly, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?" He isn't pretending that all is well with him and God, when it's not.
Am I condoning dwelling forever in the land of "negative" thoughts, or vigilantism? Of course not. Besides, God gave us our court system to dispense justice, and we are to obey the authorities such as the police and judges (Romans 13). But in fact, ventilating feelings and thoughts - whether to God or a trusted, discreet friend - is a healthy way God has provided for us to work out our feelings, and to be a catalyst for spiritual and emotional healing.
In fact, to not ever express what some consider "negative" thoughts or feelings - that would be a violation of an authentic relationship with God. There are a time and place for everything - for praise yes, but also for the expression of discouragement, grief, anger - or anything else we are dealing with. If you are a parent, think about it. Do you only want to hear the "rosy" side of things from your children, or do you want them to be totally open with you? And with God, it's really senseless to 'put on a happy face' when things aren't going well. For He knows what we are thinking and feeling anyway.
But as with David, we should always be sure to be balanced, to remember a sense of perspective, and to spend even more time in praise. By the end of that same Psalm 13, David rejoices, "I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me."
But the next time someone opens up to you (or you hear them sharing with someone else), I hope that you will give them a little grace, and be thankful they are opening up - which can be cathartic. Rather than accusing them of "whining," why not listen lovingly, and pray for (or with) them? Our relationships with both God and our fellow man, as well as our worship, should include a full range of emotions, as provided by our Lord for our emotional and spiritual health.