If I came to the Daily Office this morning anticipating an upbeat passage that would provide an obvious boost on this “somewhat grey” Monday, I was in for a bit of a surprise. Instead, my attention was directed to some verses from the Book of Job in which this our “hero” has the audacity to complain to God:
“Even today my complaint is bitter;
his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.
If only I knew where to find him;
if only I could go to his dwelling!
I would state my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments…”
“But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.” (Job 23:2-4; 8-9)
Job then goes on to make some claims about his innocence—claims that seem more than a little presumptuous, given the fact that “all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And yet, we must also note that the opening chapters of Job back-up his claim. He is, in fact, a man “blameless and upright; who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:1). So what are we to make of someone who has the nerve to bring their gripes straight to the throne of the Lord Almighty?
I’m reminded of this reflection from one of my favorite authors:
Only Israel, in all the ancient world, prayed this kind of complain prayers.
For good reason, because only Israel in all the ancient world believed that the great God who made the heavens and the earth cares that we are in pain and he can be expected to do something about it.
This is what makes these prayers so powerful—and an important part of our spiritual life. When we are passionately honest with God, when we are not indulging in self-pity or martyrdom but are genuinely opening ourselves up to God, when we complain in hope that God can still be trusted—then we are asking God to create the kind of condition in our heart that will make resting in his presence possible again. And God will come.
John Ortberg, God Is Closer than You Think
It’s my prayer that we’ve got no reason to complain as this new week begins. But even if we do, may we trust God enough to speak with Him honestly about our needs, fears and frustrations. And may we discover that He is, in fact, able to do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).