by James Collins
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:14-15
Uncle Elmer lay in a bed in a darkened hospital room. He was attached to a maze of tubes, wires, and machines. Near the end of his life, he struggled for consciousness one last time. Next to him was my Aunt Maimy, his wife of 55 years. Elmer reached for the hand of the person he had known for more than five decades of marriage.
“Maimy, is that you?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said. “I’m here.”
“Maimy, you have been with me for 55 years of marriage.”
“Yes, I have been with you.”
“I remember in our first year of marriage when a fire destroyed everything we owned, you were there with me.”
“Yes, I was with you.”
“I remember when I lost my job and was unemployed for over a year, and you were beside me.”
“Yes, I was with you.”
“And several years ago, after my first stroke, you were with me then.”
“Yes, I was with you then.”
“Now, in these final months, as I lay dying in this hospital bed, you’re with me again.”
“Yes, dear, I am with you.”
Uncle Elmer paused for a moment and said, “Maimy, you’re nothing but bad luck.”
Do you know someone like that? Do you know someone who finds something to complain about no matter how good things are going?
There is a woman in our church, Lois Steam, who complains about everything. “I don’t know how anybody can praise Jesus in this icebox,” she said two weeks ago. “What is this, a church or a walk-in freezer?” The following Sunday she quipped, “It’s so hot in here that you could poach eggs in the baptistry.”
Lois would complain if her ice-cream was cold.
“You shouldn’t talk so loud when you preach. I’m not deaf,” Lois said a while back. When I toned it down she yelled, “Speak up! You, soft-spoken nitwit!”
I was tempted to rebaptize her and hold her under for a while.
“We need more young people around here,” Lois said when I first came to the church. “Why are all these kids running in the halls? Why do we have all these kids in in here?” she said last week.
Lois makes me want to fire the church and form a congregation search committee.
The point is: Complainers can drain the joy not only out of their own lives, but also out of the lives of everybody around them. Clearly, complaining is no laughing matter to God. God hates complaining. The Bible says to do everything without murmurings and disputings. In other words, stop complaining!
The next time you feel like complaining, resist the urge and look for a way to pay a compliment. Who knows, if you do that enough, you may be cured of your complaining?
James Collins is pastor, columnist, and author. You can write to him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.