Is it ever okay to complain? To complain is to make known one’s irritation or frustration about some matter. Certainly it’s legitimate to raise objections about conditions that are clearly unjust or impractical and need to be changed. Equally, complaining about everything is unchristian. Christians are called by God to exercise virtues like patience or endurance, self-control , humility, and generosity. Jesus was very patient with his disciples who were sometimes thickheaded, lazy, selfish, and slow to believe. This makes his self-control even more admirable.
Let me point out the following three contexts in which we are required to demonstrate patience:
The first type is the patience needed when facing a nuisance of some kind. Nuisances constitute a set of circumstances that really irritate you, and you would love to complain about it, but you hold your tongue. Some nuisances we encounter are weather that appears schizophrenic, complaining people, telemarketers and robocalls, people who cut the line in the supermarket, slow moving traffic, litter and people who litter, loud neighbors, no available parking spaces, and the current political climate.
The second type of patience is called for when facing boredom. Since the arrival of COVID-19, and the social distancing restrictions that closed workplaces, churches, and the eventual closure of congregate gatherings, we continue to experience discomfort and boredom. The reality is that we associate ‘living’ with ‘doing’. People now do not know how to sit still, and we feel guilty when we are not doing anything. Today, inactivity has become the ultimate sin. You might not realize it, but boredom stimulates a form of anxiety and stress. It evokes an emotional state that creates frustration. Our desire is to be ‘doing something’ or to be ‘entertained’ – it’s a desire for sensory stimulation. If you think about those times when you’re bored, it’s
usually because you did not know what to do; really during these times there is not much to be done outside the house.
The third type of patience is the most serious and significant. It is the patience required when one suffers in some way, either physically or psychologically. None of us are happy about what the coronavirus has done to our lives and our country. We yearn for the time when we could go out in public to restaurants and shows, shake hands with strangers, and hug and kiss our friends. After months of dealing with the virus most of us want to return to the old normal. Soon after the arrival of the virus in our country, our losses individually and collectively have been enormous and we want our lives back. But, opening up too soon can make things just as bad as they once were and cause needless infections and deaths.
I appeal to you to be patient. Be patient with God as He might appear to be taking some time to answer your prayers. COVID-19 is unlike any crisis we have dealt with during the past 100 years. There are multitudes of people who have lost their jobs, they have no money, they are about to be homeless or already homeless, and they are fearful and hopeless. Don’t be mad with God because He has put meeting the needs of others ahead of yours. Secondly, be patient with your pastor. I am working hard to provide you with a weekly sermon and other communication through the internet. Those of you who have no such access receive written hard copies. We will not resume congregate worship services until it is safe to do so. It would be too painful if a worshiper was to be infected with the virus through any such meeting. For this reason, please be patient and prayerful!
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
Rev. Dr. Peter E. Grinion, Pastor