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Complaining to God

God desires our uncensored honesty, and we should pray that God defend his own causes.

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Introduction

Americans complain a lot. The Pilgrims and Puritans came over here because they were complaining about religious authority. We fought for our independence complaining about political authority. And not only is it in our history; it's our fundamental right to complain. John F. Kennedy first articulated our four basic consumer rights in a 1950 speech, and Congress went on to enact them in law. One of those rights is the right to complain. We don't just complain as individual consumers. Americans are really good at complaining as groups. Somewhere along the way we, as a society, figured out that we can get more done by complaining—from the political action of women seeking voting rights to the labor union movement to the civil rights movement. Time and again, we Americans have demonstrated that collective complaining, solidarity in grievance, is an incredibly powerful tool. It holds authority accountable for making changes.

We see this in class action lawsuits—the Tea Party movement, Occupy Wall Street, and current debates over gay marriage or public sector unions. When a group of people begin to define themselves by a common complaint, authorities are forced to take notice.

What if that power is God? Do we have a right to complain about the way God is running things? Recently I heard of a young man who asked God to keep his parents from divorcing, and when God didn't come through for him, he decided he'd had enough of God. I'm sure there are many in this room who can relate to his feeling, even if you haven't gone that far. You have found yourself questioning how God's been governing your life. Can we complain collectively? Does the church have the right to complain when it seems like God doesn't come ...

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Michael Lawrence is pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon, and author of "Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church" (Crossway).

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