Is It Wrong to Complain to God?

Sometimes things don’t happen the way we expect them to. Life rarely goes smoothly and many days are filled up with struggles, annoyances, and disappointments. What’s a person to do? For most of us, our automatic response is to complain. It’s normal, and part of being human. But we would be wise to ask, is it right?

The Bible does list complaining as a sin. In the English Standard Version, Philippians 2:14 says “Do everything without grumbling or disputing”. The New Living Translation says “do everything without complaining”. The idea of grumbling or complaining is very similar. Grumbling tends to be a mutter-under-your-breath kind of complaint, but it is complaining nonetheless. (As a side note, if there was ever a verse that proves us all to be sinners, this is it!) Complaining is a sin primarily because it flows from a thankless heart. And though the Bible says we should not complain, I don’t think anyone would question that every one of us still does.

However, the issue gets more complicated when we consider that some complaining is not directed at people, but at God. Is this a worse sin, since God certainly never deserves our complaints?

The Bible does not say if complaining to God is worse than general complaining. I would argue that it’s not, since any kind of complaining is sparked by an unhappiness with something in life, which ultimately God is responsible for. So really, all complaining is complaining to God. This brings me to my main question: is it wrong to complain to God?

Answer: yes. But what is interesting is that the Bible tells us to complain to God! Hard to believe? Check out Psalm 142:1-2, which says “With my voice I cry out to the LORD; with my voice I plead for mercy to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before him; I tell my trouble before him.”

Here is my take on this confusing subject. Even though complaining is a sin, we should complain to God because inevitably we are going to complain, and rather than stuffing our emotion, we should bring it to God. He knows our thoughts anyways, so we might as well be honest and tell God our complaints. We should not add to the sin of complaining the sin of hypocrisy, pretending that we have no complaints when deep down we do!

This is not to say though that we should nurture a heart of complaint. Of course, complaining is inevitable. But it is one thing to complain and another to be a constant complainer. We should take our complaints to God with the hope that we will rediscover our thankfulness, not simply because we want to use God as our punching bag. The Psalms seem to be advocating that a person bring their complaint to God so that the issue can be dealt with, which will eventually end in us needing to repent of our complaining. It is good to complain to God with the hope and prayer that he will again open our eyes to his goodness and that we can leave his presence being thankful and appreciative for all that he has done.

So go ahead. If you’re feeling like you got the short end of the stick, let God know! Just remember that your life is actually better than you deserve, since none of us deserve God’s love at all. And try to have an prayerful attitude that seeks not just an outlet for your frustration, but change that makes you a more thankful person.

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