“My soul loathes my life; I will give free course to my complaint, I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.”
Even a casual reading of the book of Job will reveal that this man is enduring intense suffering. His pain is both physical and emotional and has been intensified by he accusations and attacks he received from those he presumed to be his friends. It seems like Job has reached the boiling point and cannot endure it any longer. Under the pressure of his circumstances he determines to “Give free course to his compliant.” In other words, the guardrails are being removed and Job is giving himself license to freely complain about his circumstances.
While we can empathize and even relate to Job we also understand that complaining about what is going on will not bring about any positive changes in him or his circumstances. We know that complaining will get his eyes off the Lord and will cause him to be even more fixated upon his trials. We know that complaining will act like a fog, affecting all those who are around him and will cause others to want to avoid being with him. We know that complaining even has the ability to infect others and turn a people of faith into a people of doubt and discouragement.
It is important that we do not let circumstances determine how we will live but determine to trust and honor God regardless of what is thrown our way. Even if you are surrounded with hardship, be sure not to give free course to your complaint but instead replace murmuring with rejoicing and fix your eyes upon the Lord.
“Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!”
The church serves many purposes, not the least of which is as a place for the people of God to gather together and worship. When we meet with the congregation, turn our attention upward and begin to worship, something takes place in time and eternity. We are given a whole new perspective on life. Instead of being consumed with our troubles we are able to see them in light of the mighty God who loves us and works all things for His purposes and our good. When this happens our discouragement and fears are often replaced with a new found faith and hope. A broken marriage, a trouble child or disastrous financial situation is now seen as an opportunity for God to show His never ending mercy and divine power. We see our lives like a Red Sea, a Jericho wall or the enclosed tomb of Lazarus. Each of which is an opportunity for God to do the miraculous.
If you are downcast,broken hearted or facing what seems to be a hopeless situation remember that worship was created by God as a means for you to connect with Him and see life in light of who He is. Don’t let discouragement keep you from gathering with the people of God in worship. Perhaps more than anything else you need a new perspective on life. One that is seen through the filter of faith.
“Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all you stars of light!
Praise Him, you heavens of heavens,
And you waters above the heavens!”
As a child I was fascinated with the television show “The Twilight Zone.” While there were many episodes that thrilled me, there is one in particular that stood out above the rest. The scene began with a man stepping into a flying saucer as a passenger traveling to a far away planet after aliens had visited earth and convinced mankind that they were there to help. He was part of the committee assigned to translate their language, the man had discovered the basic framework of the alien language and translated the title of a book that had been given to them. The book was called, “To Serve Man.” Unfortunately they discovered too late that it was a cookbook and he was actually being invited to dinner not as a guest but as the main course.
The psalmist declares that if we were able to discover a way to translate the sounds of nature we would find that all creation is joined together in a beautiful chorus of praise. The trees filled with birds, the rocks and all that hide within them for protection are accompanied by the sea and its inhabitants as they burst forth in celebration of the God who brought them forth by the word of His power. Paul explained to the Roman church that part of their praise is a cry for Christ to return and make all things right again.
It is interesting that creation seems to be ever mindful of God and quick to respond to His commands. When Moses’ staff touched the waters of the Red Sea there was no argument, the sea simply parted. When Jesus spoke to the wind and waves they did not complain or give excuses they only obeyed. While all creation is subject to the fall it seems that the only part of creation that resists the plan of God is man. It is time to stop fighting against God and instead submit ourselves and our living over to Him.
“Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
While I live I will praise the Lord;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”
Praise is pretty common. If you have ever watched a sporting event you will hear it. One team goes ahead in the final seconds and the arena bursts forth in praise. Sometimes however the opposing team hits the final shot at the buzzer and the crowd is stunned into silence and the praise evaporates from the room.
Often we approach God in the same way. If all is well in the world we offer him praise, but as soon as things become difficult we have nothing to offer except complaint. We base our praise on our emotional condition rather than basing it upon who God is and what He has done. Regardless of what our day is like God is worthy of praise. Rain or shine, blessing or buffeting, joy or sadness, God is still the one who loves us, saved us and promises to work in and through us. If we are in the midst of a difficult season of life it is important that we do not lose sight of God or become consumed with our grief. Whatever hardship we are facing Jesus is still alive from the dead, seated at the right hand of the Father, sending forth His Spirit to work in our lives and preparing a place in eternity for us. While we cannot always celebrate our circumstances or our emotional condition we can certainly celebrate the amazing great and unending love of God who promises to be with us as we walk through the fire.
“I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble.”
Complaining is often the result of looking at the one thing that is going wrong instead of the many things that are going well. We might have a day off work, be gathering with our family at a park or at the beach, and instead of enjoying the day we begin to complain that it is too windy, too hot or there are too many others who chose to spend the day at the same location. Instead of looking at all that is right we becoming fixated with what we perceive to be wrong. Another common problem associated with complaining is that we often bring our complaints to the wrong place. When we are upset about our job we complain to our spouse, when we have a problem associated with the kids school or their sports team we complain to our friends. Instead of bringing our complaint to the source who can resolve it, we simply like to complain.
Here David teaches us something important about complaining. If we have a problem we should take it to the Lord. Often it is in the presence of the Lord that we will see our difficulty in light of the work He desires to accomplish in us and we will discover that the very thing we were so upset about was actually a tool He was using to make us more like Christ.
Instead of bringing a barrage of complaints against your spouse as soon as they walk in the door, how about taking your issues to the Lord and allowing Him to work in your life. After all He promised that all things work together for the good of conforming us into the image of Jesus.
“Behold, bless the Lord, All you servants of the Lord, Who by night stand in the house of the Lord! Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, And bless the Lord.”
The psalmist exhorts us to enter with the congregation of God into the presence of the Lord. He tells us that we should lift our hands as we bless the Lord. I find it interesting that it is possible to bless God. I understand how richly and continually He has blessed me but to think that I am a blessing to Him is sometimes beyond my comprehension. As amazing as it may seem, scripture makes it clear that worship is a means by which we are able to be a blessing to God. He loves when we take our eyes off ourselves and focus them upon Him. He loves when we realize His nature and His actions and we extol Him for all He has done. Part of the reason worship is such a blessing to God is because of the way it will impact us. As we fix our eyes on Jesus we will see Him as He is and we will see our lives in light of His tremendous love and amazing grace. When this happens it will not be long before we begin to lift our hands and surrender all.
“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
The evolution of love is seen in the relationship between children and parents. An infant child cannot survive on his own and is completely dependent upon the mercy, grace and love of the parents. In a proper relationship the parents give time, energy, even sleep for the benefit of the child. As the relationship develops so does the love, it is not long before the parents begin to see the return in their investment. I can remember being so excited when my children began to smile and laugh, or when they would crawl across the room only to get up on my lap and snuggle. What a joy! Just this week I received messages from each of my boys expressing Father’s Day wishes in their own humorous ways. Our relationship has become one of an exchange of love. This Psalm is an illustration of that kind of love relationship with God. The Psalmist cries out with thankful praise as a response to what God has done for them. Paul used an interesting word for thanks when writing to Timothy, he said “Thanks be to God…” and the word he used was “karis” which is the word used to speak of God’s giving nature. Because of the grace we have received from the Lord, we give grace back to Him.
The Psalmist describes here that exchange of grace and thanksgiving.
He recalls the history of God’s people and reminds them of all that God has done for them. The list includes being redeemed, provided for, delivered, protected, forgiven, and comforted in the storms of life. Sprinkled throughout the Psalm is a continued exhortation;
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!”
Perhaps it would be of great value to our love relationship with the Lord if we took time to recall to mind all that God has done for us and respond in thankful praise.