God’s Sovereignty and Complaining

Flat tire.jpg

I love it when people comment on my sermons because it helps me see whether or not I got my point across accurately. Recently I preached a sermon from Hebrews 12:3-11 about God’s discipline. I encouraged the congregation to see the hardships, difficulties, and persecution as part of God’s discipline in our lives to kill sin and train us to holiness. A congregant of mine made comment about this sermon that implied since it was from God’s hand we should just submit to it and not do anything about it. From that comment it became clear that I need to clarify the connection between God’s sovereignty and us asking for help. Does God’s sovereignty over a situation mean we just sit back and let it happen or refuse to try to fix it. The answer to this is no. The fact that God brings something into our life to help us grow in holiness does not mean we don’t ask for help or seek to remedy the situation. Let me illustrate this a couple of ways.

Imagine you get a flat tire. Did God give you (permit) that flat tire? Yes. Did he give it to you to help you grow in holiness and kill sin? Yes. Does that mean you sit there and stare at the tire? No! Does that mean if do not know how to change a flat tire you shouldn’t ask for help? No! You fix the flat tire. You ask for help if you don’t know how. And you humbly learn from the situation.

Now that is a simple example, but it applies in all situations. You are having a hard time with your children. Is that difficult situation from the hand of God? Yes. Is it there for your sanctification and growth? Yes. Does that mean you sit at home and hope it works out? No! It is possible that one of the reasons God brought this difficult situation into your life is so you will swallow your pride and ask for help. A husband doesn’t understand how to shepherd his wife. Is that from God? Yes. Is it for his growth in holiness? Yes. Should he sit there and refuse to get help? No.

But what about complaining? We don’t want to whine or complain. Isn’t it complaining if we ask for help or show that we are having  a hard time? The impulse to not complain is good one. The Bible tells us not to grumble or complain (Philippians 2:14). We are a nation of whiners. But grumbling and complaining is about attitude more than content. We see this with our children or with other folks we know. One child comes and asks mom for help with a hard chore. Their attitude is humble and sincere. Another child comes with raised voice, angry attitude asking for help. One is complaining. One is asking for help. Or an employee at work approaches his boss about some projects not getting done. He is sincere, wants the company to succeed and is not interested in destroying his co-workers. Another employee sees the same problem. He also approaches the boss. But his attitude is one of pride, bitterness, trying to get higher up in the company, and making his co-workers look bad. Both are approaching their boss about the same problem. One is complaining. One is not. Trying to get help for a hard situation or seeking a remedy for a hard situation is not the same as complaining.

So here is what you need to remember:

1. God is sovereign. Every situation in your life, good and bad, is from his fatherly hand for your good and his glory.

2. That means we are to learn and grow from each situation. We to approach problems, difficulties, and hardships trusting the Lord with an attitude of humility.

3. That does not mean we simply sit there. If we are having a hard time we tell someone. At the very least we get prayer for our difficulties. But we can also ask for advice, practical suggestions, etc. Asking for help, advice, and suggestions is not the same as complaining.

4. Complaining is almost always about the attitude someone has towards a situation. If you are bitter or angry about a difficult situation God has brought into your life. The answer is not to refuse to ask for help. The solution is to repent of your bitterness or anger and then go ask for help. Don’t just sit there. Fix the flat tire.

A Thought Experiment

Pulse Shooting

Imagine you hear of a neo-Nazi rally. At this rally hate speech is directed at Jews and African Americans. People are encouraged to not patronize African-American businesses. Parents are encouraged to make sure their children do not interact with people of color. Employers are encouraged to not hire or fire African-Americans or Hispanics. Marrying a person of color is an abomination. After the speeches, in private, men discuss ways to “limit” the flow of immigrants, hurt black businesses and families, and get racist men into political office.  Many of the men have been active agents in arson, vandalism, as well as petty violence against people of color. Some of them run web sites which promote hatred of African Americans. These men have pictures of Hitler on their basement walls. As the night winds down, a fire breaks out in the back of the rally hall. In the ensuing confusion 35 men are trampled or burned to death, as well as dozens of women. Was that the judgment of God?

Or you hear of two co-workers, a man and woman. Both are married with a couple of children and considered pillars in their community and churches. Behind the backs of their spouses they are having an affair. These affairs usually take place on business trips. But occasionally they steal away in the afternoon and get a hotel room on the other side of town. During one of these afternoon excursions, they are shot in their hotel room by a drug dealer and his girlfriend who wanted the man’s Lexus. They are found by the hotel manager later that day. Was that the judgment of God?

Or three  male pedophiles are driving late one night to pick up a young girl who has been kidnapped and sold on the black market. They have already done this numerous times. They take the children, use them and the resell them once they are done, usually to someone overseas. They have been on police radar for a while, but nothing concrete has been gotten on them. As they are driving, a semi-truck driver falls asleep and hits them head on killing the pedophiles instantly. Was that the judgment of God? Continue reading