Written by Evi Idoghor
I've listened to a number of brave people give gripping stories that have left me speechless. One of them was a Liberian refugee who ended up in Nigeria when war displaced her and her family, so she moved to Lagos on her own in search of a better life. This led to her working menial jobs and becoming a maid in people's houses. There were moments when she was mistreated, beaten for no reason, until one day a Good Samaritan decided to adopt her and her story changed for the better.
Never once did she try to play the victim or blame God for allowing things to happen in her life the way they did. A few days later, I came upon another story. A young man was shot in the eyes by his father, and as a result, he went blind. In truth, his father shot and killed his older brother and then committed suicide. When his mother told him what had happened and that he had no hope of regaining his vision, he just asked, "can we pray for them?" The innocence of that small boy made me reconsider my life.
When the tragedy occurred, he was approximately eight years old, and all he wanted to do for his late father and brother was to pray for them, with no consideration for the fact that his father had put them in that situation. Recently, a Tik Tok video went viral in which a young lady voiced her hatred for her father at his burial, claiming that because he did not share her political convictions, he was a racist.
As such, even after his death, she had nothing pleasant to say about him. As an adult, the aforementioned boy never talked ill of his father; he simply regarded it as one of those things that could happen in life. When he could have justified complaining and whining about what his father had done to him and how much misery he had caused him and his mother, he chose forgiveness and gratitude instead. And I am here thinking, God must create some people with a special type of heart.
Some of us waste time complaining about things that happened in our life years ago. We complain about the state of our country, our relationships, and our bank accounts. Nonetheless, we have not had to go through life-altering experiences like the two people stated above. If you are a Christian, you should be aware that God is not unconcerned with your problems; rather, he has urged us to lay our burdens and cares on him, because he cares for us (1Peter 5:7). Jesus addressing a group of people in Matthew 11:28, says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Philippians 2:14-15 says about the issue of complaining, “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation…”
In a talk one morning, my cousin and I were attempting to remember why God sent snakes to attack the Israelites during their 40-year journey (trust me, the stories in the Old Testament are wild.) "I believe it was because they engaged in sexual immorality," I explained. "No, I don't think so; I think it was because they mixed with people from other nations, something God had forbidden them to do.” When we couldn't agree on a rationale, I pulled out my phone and looked it up on Google.
The explanation was evident: they had complained against God. Then I opened the bible app and found the part where the narrative was hidden, and it read, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” In Numbers 21:5, the Israelites complained to God and his servant, Moses. According to the narrative which was recorded, after their complaint, God sent fiery serpents to bite them; some of them died, while others who were alive pleaded for mercy. And if you know anything about this people, you'll know that this wasn't their first, second, or third complaint after being freed from slavery.
Can your life be better off? Absolutely! Can it be worse off? The answer is the same. There is no guarantee that what we have today will always be there, or what we lack today would never be provided for. God however, wants us to be content at all times, and express gratitude, rather than complaint.
As individuals, we recognize how irritating it can be when someone complains to us all the time. I think in marriage it’s called nagging, and I don’t understand why the term is mostly associated with women, anyway, before I digress, no one appreciates that attitude, not even God. Gratitude shifts our focus away from any challenges we may be facing and onto the positive aspects of our lives. What if nothing good comes along? Someone might ask, possibly with a roll of the eyes, "Well, if you have the energy to complain, then you have something to be thankful for - you are alive and well."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says — “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” God's will is for us to give thanks in all circumstances and at all times. The truth is that whatever we are complaining about, there are many individuals who wish to trade places with us.
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