Summary: There is a difference between grumbling and bringing our complaints to God in lament. In this second step of lament, we learn to bring out complaints humbly and honestly to God, which then transitions us to steps three and four, asking and trusting.

A. I like the story about a man who joined a monastery where the monks were only allowed to speak two words every five years.

1. At the end of five years they were given an audience and could utter their two words.

2. At the end of the man’s first five years, the novice monk simply said, “Bed hard.”

3. At the end of the tenth year, the same monk said, “Food bad.”

4. Then at the end of the fifteenth year his two words were, “I quit.”

5. In response, the head monk said, “I’m not surprised you’ve done nothing but complain ever since you came here.”

6. For the most part, complaining is seen as a negative habit, and nobody likes complainers.

B. Those of us who have been studying the Bible and trying to walk with the Lord for a long time know that Scripture usually does not put complaining in a positive light, and so it is something we have tried to avoid.

1. In Numbers 14, we see how angry God was with Israel because of their grumbling and complaining.

2. In Philippians 2:14, Paul wrote: Do everything without grumbling and arguing.

3. So, if you have been paying attention in the first two sermons in our series on grief, or if you noticed the title of today’s sermon “Bring Your Complaints to God,” you may be wondering how can some complaining be bad and other complaining be good?

4. What is the difference between bad complaining and good complaining?

5. Well, maybe on the surface not much, but as with many things in the Christian life, it boils down to what’s going on inside the heart.

6. Bad complaining is about you being right and about getting things off your chest, but good complaining is about God being right and the desire to share with Him your struggle.

7. A devotional called, “Journey to the Cross,” puts it this way: “Lament is not about getting things off your chest. It’s about casting your anxieties upon God, and trusting him with them. Mere complaining indicates a lack of intimacy with God. Because lament is a form of prayer, lament transforms our cries and complaints into worship. Walter Brueggemann says that undergirding biblical lament is ‘a relationship between the lamenter and his God that is close and deep enough for the protester to speak in imperatives, addressing God as ‘you’ and reminding him of his covenantal promises.’ Anyone can complain, and practically everyone does. Christians can lament. They can talk to God about their condition and ask him to change things because they have a relationship with him. To lament is to be utterly honest before a God whom our faith tells us we can trust. Biblical lament affirms that suffering is real and spiritually significant, but not hopeless. In his mercy, our God has given us a form of language that bends his ear and pulls his heart.”

C. So, with this understanding in mind, I want us to explore the next part of learning to lament.

1. For the past couple of weeks, we have talked about the reality of grief and suffering in our lives, and how we need to learn to lament in order to move through grief in a healthy and helpful way.

2. Last week, we explored the first step in the process of lamenting, and it is turning to God in prayer.

3. Last week, I emphasized how important it is for us to keep talking with God.

4. When we experience disappointment and suffering, loss and grief, we might be tempted to turn away from God and give God the silent treatment, but we must overcome that temptation.

5. If we cut off communication with God, we will cut ourselves off from God’s help and blessing.

6. Last week, I shared Mark Vroegop’s four simple words to summarize the four parts of lament: (1) turn, (2) complain, (3) ask, and (4) trust.

D. Today, let’s dive into this second part of lament – complain.

1. Mark Vroegop begins this chapter on complaints with these words uttered by his wife Sarah, “God, I know you’re not mean, but it feels like you are today.”

2. Mark and his wife were sitting in their car outside the doctor’s office and they were devastated again.

3. Their previous appointment was to confirm a pregnancy after their daughter Sylvia’s death.

4. Now it was two years and multiple miscarriages later, and they were finally beyond the time frame of their prior failed pregnancies.

5. So they had been filled with guarded hope as they went to the doctor’s appointment that day, only to leave the appointment with the crushing news of another failed pregnancy.

6. Mark says that they were numb as they walked to the car - they got in and closed the door.

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