Posted by: ritagone | November 20, 2013

Not “Of” But “To”…

 

Not “of” but “to.”

What a world of difference is contained in those two tiny words in terms of our attitude about life and God.  An English churchman E.B. Pusey said it best: “Hard words will vex, unkindness will pierce; neglect will wound; threatened evils will make the soul quiver; sharp pain or weariness will rack the body, or make it restless.  But what says the Psalmist?  ‘When my heart is vexed, I will complain.’  To whom?  Not of God, but to God.’”

So often, though, I complain about God, of God, instead, when things don’t go my way, when life isn’t to my liking, when I think I’ve been wronged or damaged, when I’m disappointed or saddened by what I see around me.  I play the blame game, thinking that somehow God has caused my ill fortune, my “sharp pain or weariness.”  I forget everything I have learned in over 40 years of knowing Him about His goodness and mercy because something painful is happening to ME.  Not fair.  Not nice.  This can’t be.  It’s not supposed to work like this.

You’re supposed to walk with God and smile all the time and have lots of money and success and good fortune all the time. Isn’t this what the world tells us should happen to good people?  Isn’t that what the televangelists promise?  And don’t they have a direct line to His throne? (Note the sarcasm here, please.)

So why, then, are the people around me suffering?  Why are they having surgery and being diagnosed with cancer?  I love these people and hate to see what’s happening to them.  They are my friends.  Even at a distance, I ask myself about the horrors I see when watching the nightly news on TV.  The world appears to be more fragile, more depressing, more distraught than it used to be, doesn’t it?  I don’t think I’m imagining it.

So when hard words come, when unkindness arrives on my doorstep, when neglect and threatened evils and sharp pain or weariness all come to be a part of the normal landscape of my life, I’m going to go with the Psalmist, “When my heart is vexed, I will complain.  Not of God, but to God.”  There’s a big difference in those little prepositions.  I will not complain OF God, blaming Him for what happens, as if He is sitting in the heavens heaping troubles upon me and the world I live in because He is mean and has nothing better to do with His time.  What massive egoism that is, when you think about it.  No, instead, I will complain TO God, asking Him for relief, because I believe that He loves me and cares for me more than I will ever understand or know.  In other words, I will pray, knowing that He alone can rescue me from my ills and my anguish.

Try it.  When your world feels like it’s collapsing even ever so slightly – or perhaps even more than slightly – try running to God instead of complaining of Him.  Try reading or praying through Psalm 77: “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.  When I was in distress, I sought the Lord.” (Psalm 77:1-2 NIV)

Not “of” but “to.”  An amazing difference.

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Responses

  1. I was just speaking about this last night with a friend! Lamenting *to* God is much healthier than accumulating or repressing frustration, grief and disappointment. I can’t tell you how much Psalms of lament have helped me move to a place of hope. Love your blog!


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