Complaints That Get A Response

15 10 2013

One last glance at Martha and Mary before we leave them to their joy at having Lazarus restored to them. There’s an important point that we don’t want to miss.

Last week we discussed the pitfalls of complaining in Here We Go Again. The Israelites were known for their whining and complaining. They were very vocal about their belief that God and Moses had brought them out into the wilderness to die.

They received the fruit of their lips…every one of them (except for Joshua and Caleb) died and was buried in the barren wasteland.

Fast forward to Mary and Martha. There is a record of their grief – who wouldn’t mourn the loss of a loved one?

However, there is no indication that they were bitterly complaining about Jesus’ lack of love for them. Nothing is written about them making railing accusations about having been forgotten or abandoned…not to their guests, nor between the two of them.

On the other hand, the minute they got word that Jesus finally managed to show up, Martha rushed out to meet Him.

Martha. Alone.

Her first words were these: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Then she made this interesting statement: “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give you.”

Is this a barely-glowing ember of hope? Hmmm. (I just noticed this statement, and find it fascinating!)

They talked a bit more, and Martha ended it with a reaffirmation of Who Jesus is,

“I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God,”

then went back to the house to summon Mary.

Now it was the sister’s turn to state her complaint. It echoed Martha’s. “If You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Jesus had Mary lead Him to the tomb, and then asked her, “Did I not say to you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”


“This sickness is not unto death”

We know how the story ends – Lazarus comes forth from the tomb, the onlookers are instructed to release him from his grave clothes, and they live happily ever…

…well, not quite. The Pharisees tried to kill him. Lazarus, alive, was kind of awkward for them!

That’s beside the point. After all, they’re all “kicking it” with Jesus now!

What I want us to notice is that like the Israelites, these two had been given a promise. For the Israelites it was the Promised Land, for Martha and Mary it was that Lazarus’ illness wouldn’t end in death.

That’s where the similarity ends. 

The Israelites complained to one another, while these women complained directly to the Lord.

The Israelites died in the wilderness, having never seen the fulfillment of God’s promise.

The women were reunited with their brother.

What made the difference?

When our complaining is done on the horizontal, the outcome is the discouragement of those around us. In many instances, others’ faith in God is affected – weakened. We cause them to question God’s character.

Doubt is a cancer that eats away at hope.

However, when our complaining is done to God…remembering Who He is, and what He promised, hope may burn down until it’s a tiny spark but it is, nonetheless, still alive.

It can yet be fanned into a flame!

From this, I see that when we complain to people, who are powerless to change the circumstances, all we do is dishearten them. They, in turn, add to our list of reasons why we shouldn’t trust God…even why we were foolish to believe Him in the first place.

When we complain only to the Lord, who can do something about the problem – and affirm His faithfulness – we do no harm to the faith of those around us. Instead, they have to sit up and take notice.

In addition to this, there is no rebuke from the Lord for our complaints. The sister’s first words to Jesus was a complaint, “You could have prevented this.” That was okay with Him. He “took” it…then He did what He intended to do all along. He didn’t put either woman down for her lack of understanding.

God’s shoulders are broad enough, and He is secure in who He is. He can handle our complaints, confusion, and even our accusations. He is not threatened when we question Him, but knows that it is an opportunity for us to learn something new about Him.

I’ve learned, to my amazement, that God responds to me when I take my doubts to Him…usually soon after I talk to Him. In this matter, I’ve learned that God is very humble…not the egomaniac I once supposed Him to be. His answers may be pointed and cut to the quick, but they are never harsh, or angry.

Every time I end up completely amazed by His love

…even when I’m not going to get what I want!

In the meantime, by keeping my complaints between the Lord and I, no one else will be dragged down by my doubts, anger, or confusion with God. There’s no penalty for taking up our issues with our Father. In fact, He seems to welcome these conversations!

Let’s learn from this example and save our complaints for the Lord’s ears alone.

These complaints get a response!

Don’t miss these other insights from this amazing story: I Expected More




4 responses

19 10 2013
Julie Garro

I also love your statement, “Doubt is a cancer that eats away at hope” With your permission, I would like to tweet that. Blessings to you.

19 10 2013

Feel free to share anything here. The purpose of my blog is to glorify God – not me (although I find it’s easy to lose sight of that!). 🙂


15 10 2013

True, true! Your statement, “Doubt is a cancer that eats away at hope” was eye opening for me.

16 10 2013

The Bible says, “For lack of vision My people perish.” Without hope, we’re vulnerable to all kinds of evils…especially apathy toward the Lord.

Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂


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