On the 14th July 1989, France celebrated the 200th anniversary of the French revolution. No-one could have guessed that within months, revolutions, albeit generally bloodless revolutions, would sweep the whole of Europe. That communism would die, that the Soviet Union would disintegrate, and that Germany would be re-united.
Most people couldn't care less what party is in power, so long as they have enough to live on. It is surprising how much poverty people will accept if everybody is in the same boat and fairness prevails. But if the rich have special privileges only because of their undeserved position and power and the poor are exploited without mercy, there comes a time when the people say, "I want to complain."
It is only in a free society where a safety valve exists that people can seek redress to their complaints. No nation has ever existed that has never had people with genuine grievances. If the Bible is a record of REAL people in REAL life situations with REAL problems, then there is bound to be a record of people saying, "I want to complain", not just to human governments but also to God Himself.
One such example is in the book of Job. A person living under Stalin must at times have felt afraid to THINK, let alone SPEAK against the Communist government. But God doesn't work like that. The first chapter of the book of Job records how Satan was allowed by God to kill the children and destroy the wealth of Job. And yet the last verse of that chapter says, "In spite of everything that had happened, Job did not sin by blaming God."
Later Job listed some of his complaints starting in Job 7:7, "Remember that my life is a wind; my eye shall not turn back to see good. The eye of Him with sight shall not regard me; Your eyes will look for me, but I will not be there. As a cloud vanishes and |goes away, so one descending to the unseen shall not ascend. He shall not return any more to his house, and his place shall not recognize him again. Indeed for me, I shall not keep back my mouth; O let me speak in the distress of my spirit; O let me |importune in the bitterness of my soul.
"Am I the sea or the sea monster that You should place a guard over me? For I said, My cot shall comfort me; My bed shall bear away my concern; yet You have dismayed me with dreams, and with visions You have frightened me. So my soul would choose strangling, death, rather than my bodily staunchness. I reject this; I would not live for the eon; let me alone, for my days are a transitory breath."
Many of us know what he's talking about. He doesn't seem to care what he says. But he hasn't finished yet.
"What is a mortal that You should make a great thing of him, or that You should set Your heart on him? Or You should check him every morning, and You should test him every moment? How long? Shall You never take Your probing heed from me, never let me relax even until I swallow my saliva? I have sinned, yet what do I |contrive against You, O Preserver of .mankind? Why have You established me as Your target mark, that I should become a load to You? Why do You not bear my transgression? And pass over my depravity? For now I shall lie in the soil, And You would seek me early, but I will not be there.
Chapter 10 continues in the same vein: My soul is disgusted with my life; let me give free rein onto myself and my concern; let me speak in the bitterness of my soul. Let me say to Eloah, O do not condemn me! Let me know on why You contend with me! Is it good to You that You should work harm, that You should reject the labor of Your palms, and that You shine on the counsel of the wicked."
He wants to know: "So why did You allow me to be born? I wish I had died before anyone saw me. I wish I had never been born. Or I wish I had been carried straight from birth to the grave!"
Well, he is in a right old state isn't he?
But he wasn't the only one. HABAKKUK had the same problem. The second verse of the book gets straight to the point. "Lord, I continue to ask for help. How long will You ignore me? I cry out to You about violence but You do not save us! Why do You let me see wrong things? Why do you put up with evil?"
Habakkuk's complaint to God was about the cruelty of the Babylonians. He continues his complaint in verse 12 - "Lord, You are the Lord Who lives for ever. You are my God, my holy God.
Your eyes are too good to look at evil. You cannot stand to see people do wrong. So how can You put up with those evil people? How can
You be quiet when wicked people defeat people who are better than they are?"
I expect both men were glad to get their thoughts off their chests. But God didn't ZAP them because they had dared to speak against him.
God doesn't repress people who, in a right attitude, question what He is doing. Which is different to the dictators of this world.
When God had explained a few things to Job, what did Job say? (Job 42: 1 - 6) "Then Job answered the Lord: 'I know that You can do all things. No plan of Yours can be ruined. You asked, "Who is this that made My purpose unclear by saying things that are not true?" Surely I talked about things I did NOT UNDERSTAND. I spoke of things TOO WONDERFUL for me to know. You said, "Listen now, and I will speak. I will ask YOU questions. And you must answer me."
My ears had HEARD of You before. But now my EYES have seen You. So now I HATE myself. I will change my heart and life and sit in the dust and ashes."
When we complain to a human company or government we may be right or wrong and we may not get the right answer. But when we complain to God, we end up by seeing God as He really is.
Habakkuk too learnt the same lesson. (Habakkuk 3: 2) "Lord, I have heard the news about You. Lord I am amazed at the powerful things You have done."
Even though God was going to do some terrible things, Habakkuk would wait patiently for God. Even though figs, grapes and olives would not grow. Even though there would be no food, no sheep or cattle, he would still be glad in the Lord.
Why? Because the LORD God gives him His strength. We too can learn from these Scriptures.
However bleak this world looks right now, however much we want to complain about our lives and the lives of the nations, God is still in control, He is still in charge of the universe. We need to wait patiently for our future glory.
May we be willing to seek that patience from God's spirit.