8 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. - Psalm 107:8-9
Our souls are filled with longing in this world. Some of the things we long for are righteous and good, we long for our loved ones to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we long for the pain and suffering in this world to end and we long for the world to be a place of peace and joy, we long to see illness healed or our loved ones return, we long to rid ourselves of the sin and selfishness that lives within each of us. But some of the things we long for are rooted in an attitude of discontent for where God has us in life. We long for what our neighbor has, we long for enough money to be financially secure, to have the bigger house, better car, more exotic vacations, we long for the people in our lives to treat us with the respect we think we deserve, we long to not have to suffer the consequences of our choices.
One of the things that mark the difference between those two kinds of longings is our response - we are either complaining or we’re lamenting. Complaining is what we do when we don’t like our current circumstances. It’s a shallow response to a surface level discomfort. We think we deserve something better in our current circumstances, so we sound off to whoever will listen. It could be we think we were treated poorly in a relationship or an interaction with another person, we think we deserve something different, we want something more than we have. Complaining stems from an attitude of discontentment with where God has you in life. We don’t like our current circumstances so we find someone to share how we’ve been wronged. Complaining seeks comfort on the horizontal - it’s looking for someone to share in our misery, to say we have a right to be upset, to encourage our rant. We really just want to be heard, but what we end up doing is dragging the other person down into the pit with us. If they’re a worldly friend, they will most likely agree with your complaint, and join you in the rant of discontent - they’ll get mad at whoever you’re mad at, or rage at the injustice of the situation with you. If you’re effective enough in your rant, you’ll have a whole party of people in that pit of discontent with you. What we’re really looking for when we are complaining is comfort, but the problem is we’re looking in the wrong place. Because we’re looking horizontally for comfort in our rant, the comfort we find is temporary, generally only lasting as long as the moments we’re complaining. It’s not long before we find ourselves longing again.
Lamenting, on the other hand, is a biblical response to the longing that is stored in our hearts. Lamenting is what happens when we long after the desires God has placed in our hearts. We find examples of lamenting all over scripture. It starts at a place that recognizes we don’t deserve the grace of God in our lives, but because of His steadfast love for us, we can cry out to Him in those moments we recognize this world is not our home, and His plan butts right up against the world’s plan for our life. We lament when we feel the pain for this broken in this world, when we recognize we still have so far to go, when all we want to do is magnify Him, but we keep getting in the way of other people seeing Him. The Lord welcomes our laments. He loves when we cry out to Him, and He loves to deliver us from our longings. He wants to fill our hungry souls with good things. Lamenting is what we do when we’re seeking comfort vertically.
The reality is God created us with longings - we just misplace those longings onto worldly things. We need to listen to ourselves and keep our complaining in check. Are you complaining or are you lamenting? Complaining seeks to be comforted horizontally, while lamenting seeks the Comforter.
The temptation to complain can be pretty intense at times with a cancer diagnosis. Just this morning, I was crying on my husband’s shoulder, saying, “I just want to feel normal again.” So much of this is so hard, and there are days I want to scream for it to stop. It’s so important to pull myself out of those moments and remind myself of the bigger picture. God wants to be glorified in this, He wants to create a longing in my heart for Him above all things - above my physical comfort and my desire to be comforted by earthly things. My deepest desire is to bring Him glory, so I continue to challenge my discontent, complaining heart, and daily I work to replace it with a longing for how things should be, could be, and will be someday.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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